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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Sunday, March 25, 2001
Let’s Give the Young Man Some Help
Don shows his soft side.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed by Don Malcolm do not necessarily represent those of the Baseball Primer or any of its other authors. For those who suffer ill effects from any material presented here, Don suggests they follow the same procedure specified in first aid manuals for rattlesnake bites. Those seeking further redress, please contact Don’s legal beagle via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Did Offense Explode In The Nineties?
As a card-carrying curmudgeon (ranked at 9.77 on a 1-10 scale according to Edward Hume?s Personality Analysis Profile), I?ve made it something of a policy to have my say and move on. I?ve held to this precept even in the Face of Controversy (which I think was a movie with one of my all-time favorites, Lee Remick?or maybe it was really called The Grip of Fear with Ross Martin as an asthmatic remote control bank robber who winds up getting shot on the pitcher?s mound in Candlestick Park).
All that said (and that was clearly more than you needed to know, except maybe for the fact that about twenty years later I actually became involved with a woman who looked a lot like Lee Remick: it didn?t work out, but it was fun while it lasted), I do at least read my e-mail, despite what appears to be a widespread impression to the contrary.
I?m just very selective about what I respond to. It?s the thin-skinned person?s method of simulating a thick skin, I suppose.
And of course there are major exceptions to such a rule. Here?s one of them:
Now anyone who calls me ?Mr. Malcolm? is either very young or very clever, because I just instinctively respond to that ?Mr.? thing. (I?m about ten times as likely to respond to an email addressing me as ?Mr. #######? than simply ?Hey, #######??I think when you?ve reached the top of the slag heap you deserve a little respect, know what I mean?)
I also happen to think young Scott is asking a very interesting question. And I think that he?s already come to an important conclusion about the issue?namely, that the exact cause of the explosion in offense in the nineties is a bit murky.
Basically, as I see it, there are three elements that are often pointed to as causes for the rise in offense since 1992:
The trend toward smaller,
cozier ballparks as a result of the ?retro? stadium construction mania in the
Of these items, only the first one is readily measurable as part of traditional baseball stats. The second one resists quantification, but we can at least try to see when power made its biggest increase during the period in question. We can do that by looking at league isolated power from 1992 to 2000:
Though the NL has had a ?late growth spurt? over the past two years that has gotten its ISO in sync with the AL, we can see that most of the upswing in power (85% of it in the AL and 64% of it in the NL) occurred in the first two years of the ?explosion.?
That would tend to indicate that if you can look closely enough at the events in 1993-94, you might be able to isolate the causes for the change.
One thing worth looking at statistically would be the impact of baseball in Denver on the NL stats. Take the Denver ballpark out of the NL overall stats and see how much of a gain in offense occurs without it. That would be a good piece of data for use in a paper for your English class, Scott.
The third item (the baseball) is a favorite of conspiracy theorists. (It would be interesting to find out if there is a larger-than-average number of these types amongst the baseball fan sub-group than there is in the population as a whole, but I don?t know if there?s a way to get that information.) The ISO numbers tend to indicate that if the Lords juiced the ball, such would have occurred in 1993 and/or 1994.
That?s about as much as I can come up with on this. What I?m hoping is that our readership will feel free to add any thoughts, conjectures, studies, conspiracy scenarios, etc., to my meager little attempt to answer Scott?s question. It strikes me that there is a rich lode of opinion to be had from the baseballprimer.com readership, and I?d like to see all of you add your ideas here, so that Scott will have a wealth of viewpoint with which to work. Anyone who calls me ?Mr. Malcolm? deserves to get an ?A? in his class (though there are doubtless many of you who would contend the opposite!).
So whaddya say? Let?s help Scott get an ?A? on his paper. Fire away with your ideas on this subject.
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