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Pace Of Play Newsbeat

Monday, March 06, 2023

Inside the Plan to Fix Baseball

Naturally, with a change this big, alarms go off inside many baseball fans. Plenty of people think there will be chaos, particularly at the beginning, with players and perhaps even umpires angrily rebelling against the clock and the automatic ball/strike calls. Some have predicted that the protests will be so insistent, the pitch clock may even be abandoned.

MLB maintains there’s no chance of that. They’re pushing in all their chips on this one. “It’s so difficult going with change,” Manfred says. “If you’re going to do it, you cannot have the change not achieve results.”

Anyway, while baseball executives do expect there to be a learning curve, they think that in time everybody will love the new pace. That was the minor-league experience. In week two of the pitch timer, games averaged 1.73 violations, which is way too many. By week five, though, that number had been cut in half. And by week twenty-one, there were fewer than 0.5 violations per game, similar to the number of delay-of-game penalties in the NFL.

“Players will adjust,” says Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto. “We’re athletes. We’re made to adapt. We will adapt. I actually don’t think it will take very long.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 06, 2023 at 10:30 AM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: joe posnanski, pace of play

On the Relationship of Pitch Tempo and Defense

Let’s begin the investigation by looking for a relationship between two of the newer Statcast measurements: pitch tempo and the defensive stat Outs Above Average (OAA). Statcast has been calculating OAA since 2016 and Pitch Tempo for even longer, so we have a data set that includes the past six seasons where we have both measurements.

Pitch tempo measures the median time between pitches within a plate appearance and breaks those down by bases empty and runners on base situations at both the individual and team levels. I calculated a weighted average of the bases empty and runners on situations to get one tempo mark at the team level for each team season since 2016 (210 seasons in all) and compared that with each team’s OAA marks from those seasons.

If the old adage that pace leads to better defense were true, we’d probably expect to see a relationship indicating that teams with the fastest pitch tempos would also be among the best by OAA. But that’s not evident from this data. I ran a correlation analysis on the two data sets and got a statistically significant R-squared value of -0.049. The closer a correlation value is to 1 or -1, the stronger the relationship between the two variables. That value suggests the relationship between pitch tempo and outs above average is almost negligible.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 06, 2023 at 09:54 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: pace of play

Do Shorter Games Lead To Lower Concessions Sales?

So I asked MiLB front offices: with their average game time dropping by nearly half an hour in 2022, did they see a drop in concessions revenue?

The answer I got back universally from more than a dozen MiLB operators was no. MiLB teams did not see a loss in concessions sales because games were shorter.

“We didn’t see concession sales suffer due to shorter games as fans were staying the same amount of time as they normally would, but were now just staying until the end of the game instead of the end of the seventh inning,” said one MiLB GM.

“We did not see a negative effect on concession sales.  People still eat and drink as much as they used to.  The 7th-9th innings of a 3 hour 30 minute game are not high concession sales,” said another.

“From a concessions perspective, we have not seen a drop off in per caps whatsoever. A game lasting an hour longer than normal on a Thursday night doesn’t benefit us on the concessions side, because 90% of the fans have already gone home to get to bed,” said a third.

A fourth operator said their concession revenue actually went up. He also noted that their post-game promotions where kids run the bases were better attended because families were much more willing to stick around for the entire game, which he took as a positive sign for developing young fans.

Multiple operators also noted that the gameday employees have said how happy they are with the change since they are getting home half an hour earlier than they were before.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 06, 2023 at 09:53 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: pace of play



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