Let’s Give the Young Man Some Help
Don shows his soft side.
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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
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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
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:
I am researching for my term paper for my Honors English 201 class.?
What I am attempting to find is the answer to this question: ?What
has been the cause for the offensive increase in Major League Baseball of
While doing this, I have come to believe that a definite answer cannot
be found, so I am looking for opinions.? I was hoping that you could assist
me by giving me yours be it based on statistics or if you think that is even
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
The trend toward smaller,
cozier ballparks as a result of the ?retro? stadium construction mania in the
The emphasis placed on weight
training for hitters, accelerating what has already been a long-term trend toward
The composition and resiliency of the baseball itself, subject
of many rumors and theories.
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:
Year NL AL
1992 .116 .126
1993 .135 .141
1994 .148 .161
1995 .145 .157
1996 .146 .168
1997 .147 .157
1998 .148 .161
1999 .161 .164
2000 .166 .167
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
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.
Posted: March 25, 2001 at 05:00 AM | 6 comment(s)
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