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Monday, February 25, 2019

Relievers Have Broken Baseball. We Have A Plan To Fix It. | FiveThirtyEight

This.

How to bring balance back to bullpens

There’s a better idea than the MLB minimum batters proposal, one that would also speed up the game but that would yield more interesting strategy and — most importantly, from my point of view — cut down on the number of strikeouts, perhaps substantially. The core of my proposal is simple: Each team should be limited to carrying 10 pitchers on its 25-man active roster, plus an Emergency Pitcher.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 25, 2019 at 12:20 PM | 76 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rules of the game

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   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 25, 2019 at 12:35 PM (#5817904)
I could see 12 being a reasonable max. That's what it's been for most of the 21st century. Going back to 10-man pitching staffs ... this isn't the 70's anymore.
   2. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 25, 2019 at 12:47 PM (#5817910)
In 1979 the average game time was 2:35. Restricting the roster to 10 pitchers might well chop away some of the extra 30 minutes that've been added since then.

Personally I'd go with strictly enforced time limits between pitches for starters, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if managers didn't always have the option to use 3 or 4 relievers every night.
   3. Greg Pope Posted: February 25, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5817913)
I could see 12 being a reasonable max. That's what it's been for most of the 21st century. Going back to 10-man pitching staffs ... this isn't the 70's anymore.

But with the AAA shuttle, it wouldn't really be 10. Teams have figured out how to get 2-3 extra pitchers on their roster, so limiting it to 10 addresses that.

Of course, right now they're shuttling pitchers 11-18, so by limiting it to 10, you might not have anyone you want to shuttle. So maybe this doesn't work.
   4. oscar madisox Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5817914)
I have been advocating a limitation to the number of pitchers on a roster for some time now so I agree wholeheartedly with this premise. I'd like to see 10 or 11 pitchers allowed on the roster, with teams having to set their 25 players for the week on Monday morning.

Want to swap righties for lefties (batters or pitchers), or add a third catcher for a week to account for a banged-up regular. Go ahead. Switch back a week later if you need to. But whatever you do, the roster stays that way for a week.

This would allow pitchers who need a rest to get one (instead of stashing a player on the DL). You'd have to work out how to address mid-week injuries or DL moves, minor-league assignments, and doubleheaders, but I'm sure it could all be reasonably worked out.

You'd still have that 11-18 shuttle, but only 10 or 11 would be available on a given week, limiting their usage. If you pitch six releivers on Monday, you'd have to figure out how to use those pitchers Tuesday-Sunday before you can rejigger your roster.

   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5817915)
I have been advocating a limitation to the number of pitchers on a roster for some time now so I agree wholeheartedly with this premise. I'd like to see 10 or 11 pitchers allowed on the roster, with teams having to set their 25 players for the week on Monday morning.

1000 times yes.
   6. Blastin Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:17 PM (#5817921)
I think 11 would be fine.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5817928)
No team should regularly require more than 3 pitchers to finish a 9 inning game. The rules need to make that necessary.

SP 5-6, RP1 1-2, RP 2 1-2.
   8. Rusty Priske Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:24 PM (#5817930)
Limiting movement AND limiting relievers to 10 or 11 is not reasonable.

I would very much like to see limits on movement, but a 7 man bullpen is not excessive.

8 is.
   9. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5817931)
From the article:

Of the roughly 16,000 pitching changes in 2018, only about 5,000 occured in the middle of the inning, according to data provided to FiveThirtyEight by David Smith of Retrosheet. These midinning changes are indeed time-consuming — adding about 3 minutes and 15 seconds worth of game time, Smith estimates.


I'm not sure where "only" comes in; that's almost a third of all pitching changes, and it's just over one per team per game. There were nearly as many mid-inning pitching changes last year as there were home runs, and twice as many as there were stolen bases.

That being said, I wouldn't mind limiting the number of pitchers on the roster, but I suspect it might happen as a natural consequence of the minimum batters faced rule anyway (if it's implemented).
   10. DCA Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:32 PM (#5817936)
If you are going to do a roster limit, it really only makes sense to do a per-game active roster. Pitcher limit of X (somewhere between 6-8). If you run out of arms, that position is gone. Any non-pitcher can then come in to pitch. But from that point, you play defense with 8.

I suppose there's nothing stopping a team from alternating an A team and a B team of relievers and going to them early each game. Except that if a guy is good enough to be part of your end-game bullpen, you want him available every game.

That said, between-innings pitching changes don't bother me. It costs a roster spot that can't be used for something else of value, e.g. a platoon mate for your LHB starter at one position. Teams are either optimizing value with expanding bullpens, or paying a price in the standings.

Want to have fewer pitchers? Cut the 25-man roster to 24.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:33 PM (#5817937)
Limiting movement AND limiting relievers to 10 or 11 is not reasonable.

I would very much like to see limits on movement, but a 7 man bullpen is not excessive.

8 is.


Why? Baseball was just fine for many years with a 5 man bullpen. 6 is more than enough.

Relievers will just have to pitch multiple innings at a time. They will be less effective. That is a good thing.

Fewer strikeouts, and more come from behind wins. Every team having 3-4 elite RPs that can K 10+/9 is terrible for the excitement of the game. We should want MORE scoring in the late innings, not less.

Frankly, they shouldn't stop with rules hindering RPs until SP are, once again, more effective on average than relievers.
   12. . Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:34 PM (#5817938)
If you're going to allow mid-inning pitching changes -- I'd be fine if they were outlawed altogether (*) -- warmup pitches must be forever erased from the game. No other sport has such a thing. NBA players don't enter a game and get to shoot 10 warmup jump shots, e.g. Hockey goalies come in, even for injured fellow goalies, and get no warmup shots.

Pitchers warm up in the bullpen. Why they would then come into the game and spend 3-4 minutes continuing to warm up is a complete mystery. An NBA player comes into the game after he's been sitting on the bench doing nothing for 15-20 minutes.

(*) With an exception if a guy's getting totally shelled, of course.

   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:34 PM (#5817940)
Want to have fewer pitchers? Cut the 25-man roster to 24.

Nope. They'll just cut the bench to three guys.
   14. . Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:37 PM (#5817942)
Naming your roster every Monday with a hard limit on pitchers would actually be cool and filled with fan-and-commentator-debate-prompting strategy. I like it a lot.
   15. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:40 PM (#5817943)
Another terrible "reliever solution" that has a zero percent chance of being enacted.

A lot of terrible solutions for a problem that doesn't exist.

Reducing the creative roster usage is the most likely and most effective means of changing reliever usage.

It is like Nate Silver has never observed a baseball season if he thinks 10 guys are going to throw all but 1405 out of 1450 IP. Even if you pass a bunch of rules, injuries and #### happen.
   16. JL72 Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:41 PM (#5817945)
Why they would then come into the game and spend 3-4 minutes continuing to warm up is a complete mystery.


I always assumed this was a safety thing, as the mound on the field can be in very different shape than the one in the bullpen.

But if that is wrong, or really not that big of a deal, than I can see getting rid of the warm-up pitches.
   17. . Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5817949)
I always assumed this was a safety thing, as the mound on the field can be in very different shape than the one in the bullpen.


Except they throw their first "warm-up" pitch on the game mound at full speed. That pitch is no less "dangerous" than it would be if it was thrown to a hitter.
   18. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5817950)
warmup pitches must be forever erased from the game.


I am 100% behind this. If there's complaints about the differences between the bullpen mounds and the field mound, complain to the league office and let them enforce uniformity.

I doubt it would happen though because the 8 warmup pitches provide another 60-second commercial break.
   19. . Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:51 PM (#5817954)
And then while they're warming up, they don't just throw pitches but often dilly-dally with kicking the dirt and smoothing the dirt and otherwise manicuring and wasting more time. #### outta here with that.
   20. JL72 Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:56 PM (#5817957)
If there's complaints about the differences between the bullpen mounds and the field mound, complain to the league office and let them enforce uniformity.


The differences would be because of the previous pitchers. Each pitcher has a different landing spot, different starting spot on the pitching rubber, etc. So I though warm-ups were there so that the pitchers could figure that out. and to address 17 above, I never thought the first warm up was at full speed, but perhaps it is.

This also could be just a vestige of when mounds were different. Regardless, I think this is a good place to look as far as shortening up the game.
   21. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 25, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5817958)
I am 100% behind this. If there's complaints about the differences between the bullpen mounds and the field mound, complain to the league office and let them enforce uniformity.

The mound is a hill of dirt that is absorbing dozens of impacts per inning from the feet of 200-pound humans wearing spikes. Even if the on-field mound and the bullpen mound are identical when the game starts, they won't stay that way for long.
   22. Cris E Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5817959)
Lots of problems with this. Just because Nate wants the pitchers to return to 1990 doesn't mean the hitters will acquiesce to the change. The scouting and video available to hitters have changed how hitters attack pitchers, and so far most teams have really only managed to counter it by limiting how often pitchers have to face them in a game. Pitchers don't even throw that many innings on teams where a GM or old school manager might desire and support it. Basically, if it were so easy to just slow down the fastballs and go with increased break and perfect control someone would be doing it by now.

On the other hand it wouldn't be as hard as some folks are making it out to be. Five starters, two long men and three closers and a liberal use of the AAA shuttle could get it done. The chart in TFA that shows 1500 innings going to a dozen guys is just flat out wrong. You'd still see it spread across 14-16 guys like today, but in three week chunks. The eternal search would be for the #6 guys so the old #5 could be your long man that gets into 40 games a year and throws 110 innings.

In a way it wouldn't change the game that much except the runs allowed would spike. I think there might be more merit in an 11 man staff and also putting humidors in more cities to offset the increased offense. That might change more HR to fly balls and attack the launch angle guys a little bit.

   23. oscar madisox Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:08 PM (#5817964)
Eliminating warm-up pitches might shorten game lengths, but it does nothing about pace of play, and the lack of action in games today.

Reducing the number of pitchers can do that. As someone said above, fewer pitchers = longer relief stints and almost certainly mean fewer strikeouts. More balls in play, means more action.
   24. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5817965)
Lots of problems with this. Just because Nate wants the pitchers to return to 1990 doesn't mean the hitters will acquiesce to the change


Yup. Hitters are better than ever and pitchers have to work harder than ever to be effective. To change pitching usage, they'd need to make pitching less stressful on the arm, but I don't really see a way to do that. Maybe bring back the spitball, but there's no way they'd do that (though Manfred might "consider it").
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5817978)
Yup. Hitters are better than ever and pitchers have to work harder than ever to be effective. To change pitching usage, they'd need to make pitching less stressful on the arm, but I don't really see a way to do that. Maybe bring back the spitball, but there's no way they'd do that (though Manfred might "consider it").

Deaden the ball. Easy-peasey.

No one besides your Stanton/Judge/JD Martinez power guys should be able to hit an opposite field HR.
   26. nick swisher hygiene Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:24 PM (#5817980)
I like eliminating the warmup pitches because it's win-win: either it turns out not to matter and just straightforwardly saves time, or it means that due to different "mound feel" pitchers are forced to be careful with their first couple offerings to an extent which reduces the domination of relief pitching, which means fewer relief changes, which....saves time!
   27. pikepredator Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:28 PM (#5817988)
I like the idea of limiting the number of slots that can be designated for pitchers. It likely addresses a number of issues that make the current version of baseball a bit of a slog to watch, without fundamentally changing the way it's played - in fact, this nudges the game back. I am a fan of many of the innovations - I love the shift (odd to call something that's at least 60 years old "new" . . .) so I'm not one to pine for "the good ol' days", but this seems like one of those rules that - rather than directly influencing the game play - will have ripple effects that ultimately lead to more balls in play. Strikeouts are situationally exciting - men on, 2 outs, crowd at their feet - but too many makes for a dull game.

If it also gives rise to more two-way players, that's fantastic IMO.

   28. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:39 PM (#5817993)
I think it would wise to spell out exactly what one wants to accomplish, then suggest changes accordingly. Many recent proposals have felt all over the place.

I, like snapper, think deadening the ball makes sense. In part, I think the percentage of offense that comes from HR is too high and I want to see hitters and pitchers to both move toward emphasizing contact (for pitchers, soft contact), which I believe yields a better (and faster) product.
More generally - and I hope this isn't my SNLing this, where I think an optimal mix is what I saw as a kid (80s) - I'd like MLB to reach a point where a mix of strategies for offense and defenses make sense, depending on the team. That (diversity of tactics) is a tough standard, given that teams have adopted more analytic approaches to strategy (where suggested strategies can change with circumstances, but teams are more likely to move together on this). I want teams that slap and run, teams that draw walks and hit flies, and so on. I want a brisk game and am aware that we're going to have a bunch of commercials and are going to have small foul territory.
   29. JL72 Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:46 PM (#5817998)
I'd like MLB to reach a point where a mix of strategies for offense and defenses make sense, depending on the team.


While I am with you on this (also one who grew up watching baseball in the 80s), I think a big part of this was the use of the old artificial turf in some stadiums. The approach to building the team by the Royals and Cardinals was driven by that factor, which really is no longer present in today's game.
   30. DL from MN Posted: February 25, 2019 at 02:49 PM (#5818001)
deadening the ball makes sense


I think it would increase the incentive to walk (hits are more rare) and not decrease strikeouts at all while killing HR. Two true outcomes and a whole lot of bunts. All of a sudden foot speed becomes really important.
   31. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: February 25, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5818009)
I think this combined with deadening the ball makes sense. Relief pitchers should have to pace themselves like starters do, which should hopefully result in fewer strikeouts. Deadening the ball then puts more balls in play, which will be outs at first, but become line drives and ground balls once launch angle isn't a viable strategy any longer. I'm all in favor of reducing pitching staffs.
   32. . Posted: February 25, 2019 at 03:06 PM (#5818010)
Yup. Hitters are better than ever


???

Based on what? They're better at doing the things that can lead to home runs, because they're far more conscious of doing that -- but better overall? I very much think not.
   33. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: February 25, 2019 at 04:04 PM (#5818032)
I'm not advocating for filling the ball with feathers - it won't be 1910.

JL72/Turf: agreed. We have what we have to work with.

Incentive to walk: It's unknown how this would impact walks, as both hitters and pitchers would respond tactically. Also, you tell teams ahead of time that you're doing this to the ball. (Which would be well within MLB's lax standards here.)
That it would not impact strikeouts seems unlikely, frankly.

I'd also consider lowering the mound slightly.

I like the JJ Cooper (I think) proposal of having mid-inning pitching changes start with a 1-0 count and not otherwise limiting the number of relievers on a roster / batters faced, etc...
   34. SoSH U at work Posted: February 25, 2019 at 04:09 PM (#5818034)
I think it would wise to spell out exactly what one wants to accomplish, then suggest changes accordingly. Many recent proposals have felt all over the place.

I, like snapper, think deadening the ball makes sense. In part, I think the percentage of offense that comes from HR is too high and I want to see hitters and pitchers to both move toward emphasizing contact (for pitchers, soft contact), which I believe yields a better (and faster) product.
More generally - and I hope this isn't my SNLing this, where I think an optimal mix is what I saw as a kid (80s) - I'd like MLB to reach a point where a mix of strategies for offense and defenses make sense, depending on the team. That (diversity of tactics) is a tough standard, given that teams have adopted more analytic approaches to strategy (where suggested strategies can change with circumstances, but teams are more likely to move together on this). I want teams that slap and run, teams that draw walks and hit flies, and so on. I want a brisk game and am aware that we're going to have a bunch of commercials and are going to have small foul territory.


I agree with your goals, but I'm not sure that deadening the ball will truly achieve the aims (I think there will still be incentive to swing as hard as you can, it just will result in more doubles than dingers. But weak contact won't generate more hits).

As I've said too many times already, I suspect the only way to really get a game that puts a premium on contact (from the offense, which is where I think the incentives need to be placed) is reduced distance between the bases. However, given how drastic that change would be, I'd like to see larger parks, thicker bat handles and even the dead ball trick tried before touching on the distance.

I'd also be good with bringing back speedy turf, because I cosign JL72's belief that surface led to variations in team-building strategies.
   35. Perry Posted: February 25, 2019 at 04:18 PM (#5818039)
I like it! Possibly a better solution, and certainly less intrusive, than a pitch clock.
   36. Smitty* Posted: February 25, 2019 at 04:50 PM (#5818051)
I mostly like the articles suggestions, but I’d have one change to simplify things:

No emergency pitcher. Only players designated as pitchers can pitch, unless a run-differential threshold or extra inning threshold have been met. Once met, any player on the roster can be put in to pitch.

So basically you have x number of pitchers on your roster (article suggests 10, I’d probably make it 11). Only those players can pitch, unless it’s a blowout or a marathon game. Pitchers are allowed to play other positions/pinch hit/whatever. 2 way players are allowed but they take up one of the pitcher slots. The designation of whether a player is a pitcher or not occurs when they are added to the 25 man roster. Seems pretty straightforward. Try it for a year, and if it’s not effective enough than come up with a rule to reduce the AAA shuttle.
   37. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: February 25, 2019 at 05:01 PM (#5818060)
Larger parks I don't see happening. Turf is even less likely.
Thicker bat handles I kinda like, though I don't see umps wanting to check them.
Pitch clocks are shockingly unobtrusive. Many players have already used them in the minors and they've liked them.
   38. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 25, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5818074)
I'd like MLB to reach a point where a mix of strategies for offense and defenses make sense, depending on the team.


While I am with you on this (also one who grew up watching baseball in the 80s), I think a big part of this was the use of the old artificial turf in some stadiums. The approach to building the team by the Royals and Cardinals was driven by that factor, which really is no longer present in today's game.

The near total demise of phony turf was possibly the greatest single development over the past 30 years. Dick Allen had it right when he said if his horses wouldn't eat it, he didn't want to play on it. Other than steroids, nothing distorted baseball's natural balance more than the sight of a Texas Leaguer bouncing over an outfielder's head, or the Baltimore chop being made into a conscious offensive strategy. Whiteyball was to baseball what Arena Football is to football, and thank God it's now dead and buried.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I like it! Possibly a better solution, and certainly less intrusive, than a pitch clock.

The pitch clock will be an intrusion for a few weeks, as will any rule requiring batters to be in the box. A few old farts and a few young fartlets will act like it's the end of the world, and then everyone will adjust and wonder what the fuss was all about.

That said, I also like the idea of limiting the number of pitchers to 10 per roster, with changes only allowed once a week.
   39. Baldrick Posted: February 25, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5818078)
I used to be opposed to this sort of solution, but I've gradually been persuaded by the folks here that it's actually pretty manageable in terms of rule lawyering, and probably would have a decently positive effect. I'd still rather see them try some other stuff first, but I think this should at least be on the table.
   40. bookbook Posted: February 25, 2019 at 05:59 PM (#5818089)
How about this? For every new pitcher a team uses, the mound moves back three feet. You 98 MPH fastball doesn’t look so unhittable from 75 feet away, now, does it?
   41. Greg Pope Posted: February 25, 2019 at 06:00 PM (#5818090)
everyone will adjust and wonder what the fuss was all about.

Right. They just need to implement it.

Larry Bowa in 2008 said that he'd never wear a helmet to coach third base and they could fine him 162 times. When was the last time you heard a complaint about those?

Curt Schilling took a bat to the Questec machine. Nobody cares now.

People were against the Designated Hitter in 1973.

OK, scratch that last one.

If they implement, and the umps enforce it, the players will adjust within 2-3 games. There's no way that Scherzer is going to have an extra ball called on every other batter just to make a point. Rizzo isn't going to keep stepping out to gather his thoughts and adjust his gloves and get an extra strike on him every at bat.

The first year or two there will be a couple of players who have randomly poor years who will blame it on the pitch clock. Then we'll never hear about it again.
   42. The Mighty Quintana Posted: February 25, 2019 at 06:44 PM (#5818100)
If you are removed mid-inning for a reason other than injury, you are ineligible to pitch for two days....and cannot come off the active roster. Could cut down on both the frequency of the mid-inning change, and the roster slots occupied by LOOGYs/ROOOGYs.

For those who claim to be injured, it is an immediate trip to the 10-day IL. No appeals.
   43. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 25, 2019 at 07:02 PM (#5818101)
Most of you guys are as bad as Rob "Consider Anything" Manfred. Baseball isn't broken.
   44. Adam Starblind Posted: February 25, 2019 at 07:05 PM (#5818102)
Want to have fewer pitchers? Cut the 25-man roster to 24.


Best of luck with the union.
   45. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: February 25, 2019 at 07:06 PM (#5818103)
For those who claim to be injured, it is an immediate trip to the 10-day IL. No appeals.


So a pitcher takes a line drive/sharply hit ground ball off of his leg/pitching hand. He either has to stay in and pitch or go on the day DL? Sounds kind of drastic.
   46. Adam Starblind Posted: February 25, 2019 at 07:11 PM (#5818104)
For those who claim to be injured, it is an immediate trip to the 10-day IL.


I love the idea of having the play hurt in the International League. (yeah, I know what "IL" is).
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2019 at 07:19 PM (#5818106)
Baseball isn't broken.

The average game lasts 3:05, and their were more K's than base hits in 2018. It's broken.
   48. Jose Canusee Posted: February 25, 2019 at 08:41 PM (#5818123)
All the pitchers who already dislike the pitch clocks will definitely hate losing their warmups on the actual mound. No matter how well the the bullpen mounds are groomed to be like the game mound, the background etc is different. I doubt tennis tournaments are set up where the players warm up on the side court and are told to go onto Centre Court and serve right away even though that is probably more like the other court than the game mound is like the bullpen mound.
As far as the article's saying that anyone not listed as a pitcher needs more PA's than IP, any AL mgr could punt the DH in late games to qualify their stealth reliever. Bottom of the 9th down by 3 and instead of hoping for a rally against the closer, "Now batting for Ortiz, #58 Jonathan Papelbon"
   49. Russ Posted: February 25, 2019 at 10:24 PM (#5818149)
I really don’t like restricting rosters by position. Players can and should be able to play any position on the field without limitation. This proposal by Nate is pretty ill considered, although I agree with what he is trying to achieve. Fewer relievers in games would increase balls in play and shorten game time... the article makes a fairly good argument for that.

My proposal would be to extend an existing rule rather than write a new one. Currently, a pitcher has to face one batter completely in order to be removed from the game, except in the case of injury. Why not three? Or six? If you are worried about faking of injuries, then the pitcher can be removed at the penalty of a balk (with runners on) or walk (with bases empty). This would restrict the ability of relievers to come in throwing hard and would encourage teams to use fewer relievers without any arbitrary roster machinations.
   50. bobm Posted: February 25, 2019 at 11:01 PM (#5818156)
Other than steroids, nothing distorted baseball's natural balance more than the sight of a Texas Leaguer bouncing over an outfielder's head, or the Baltimore chop being made into a conscious offensive strategy.

"The Texas Leaguer dates back to 1901", and "the Baltimore chop came from the Orioles of the late 19th century."
   51. bobm Posted: February 25, 2019 at 11:11 PM (#5818159)
Players can and should be able to play any position on the field without limitation.

That ship has sailed.

Rule 5.10(d) Comment: A pitcher may change to another position only once during the same inning; e.g. the pitcher will not be allowed to assume a position other than a pitcher more than once in the same inning.


   52. The Duke Posted: February 25, 2019 at 11:24 PM (#5818165)
It would certainly change baseball economics. A lifeline for 3rd catchers and pure pinch hitters and death to the LOOGY and ROOGY. Likely a decline in speed as pitchers would have to be able to pitch 2-3 innings and a decline in the one inning closer.

I like it. We might even get the return of the Herb WASHINGTON bench player.
   53. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 26, 2019 at 01:29 AM (#5818182)
Limiting pitchers and pitching changes will increase the length of games, because it will increase the number of baserunners and amount of scoring. That's blindingly obvious, so those who advocate it must not think it will shorten the game.

You want a silly, broken version of baseball? It's the one where the starting pitcher goes six, and exactly six innings every night, no matter what happens in the game. He gives up five runs? Six? Seven? Eight? It won't matter. That's what will happen with a roster limit on pitchers, because the number one priority will be not to "waste" relievers. As soon as a team is more than three runs behind, it will punt the game. And a lot more games will get that far apart in the fifth and sixth because of reluctance to remove the starter. Talk about excitement!

The other possibility is that teams will cycle through 10 relievers, five at a time, and not really care who's on the roster on any given day. Relievers will be even more anonymous than they are now, and games will also be managed with the top priority being to use certain pitchers in a certain order, with winning of secondary importance. Today, players say "well, I'll hit the ball hard and the hits will take care of themselves." That version of baseball will be "well, we follow the script and in the long run we'll win enough games." Managing to win a particular game will seem as old-fashioned as double headers and 300-inning seasons.
   54. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: February 26, 2019 at 03:37 AM (#5818187)
Limiting pitchers and pitching changes will increase the length of games, because it will increase the number of baserunners and amount of scoring. That's blindingly obvious, so those who advocate it must not think it will shorten the game.


I don't really care about the length of games for its own sake. I care about the pace. If we've got a 3.5-hour 10 - 9 (or, heck, even 12 - 6) ball game, I'm good with that. But a 4 - 1 game shouldn't take 3.5 hours.

I don't foresee the scenario you describe coming into play. Teams always want to win the current game, but always have to be conscious of the long run. That's how baseball has always worked. I see the opposite happening - the 10-man pitching staff will force managers to deploy their resources more wisely. Yeah, it might result in some starter or reliever being left in to get shelled, but I prefer that over managing by formula with your 14-man pitching staff so each guy gets to face one batter. I think the game could use more offense.
   55. Baldrick Posted: February 26, 2019 at 04:56 AM (#5818190)
Limiting pitchers and pitching changes will increase the length of games, because it will increase the number of baserunners and amount of scoring. That's blindingly obvious, so those who advocate it must not think it will shorten the game.

I don't think this is true, but even if it were, improve the pace of play, and I'll happily sit through a longer baseball game.
   56. Jim Furtado Posted: February 26, 2019 at 08:25 AM (#5818197)
I'm all for the limits on pitchers. The game survived just fine with ten pitchers on rosters. It will survive a return to this limit. Less max effort pitchers will also add more offense.

Having the limit will also increase offensive options for teams. Platoons can come back. Although I like a good 1-0 pitchers duel, more offense sells.
   57. PreservedFish Posted: February 26, 2019 at 08:27 AM (#5818199)
I have ignored all 56 comments, but will declare that I strongly agree with the excerpt. Limiting the # of pitchers on the roster is by far the most elegant solution to our problem.

(That is, the problem of the parade of anonymous dominant relievers that are minimizing the role of the starting pitcher. Not the problem of pace. It would help with that a little bit, but for the pace problem, there is no solution better than a pitch clock)
   58. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: February 26, 2019 at 08:44 AM (#5818202)
Baseball isn't broken, but I see no problem with small changes to make it a better product.
Length v. Pace: I care about both, but pace is the far greater issue.
I really don’t like restricting rosters by position. Players can and should be able to play any position on the field without limitation.

Agree.
   59. JL72 Posted: February 26, 2019 at 09:18 AM (#5818220)
I'm all for the limits on pitchers. The game survived just fine with ten pitchers on rosters. It will survive a return to this limit. Less max effort pitchers will also add more offense.


Which will likely lead to longer games, as there will be more at-bats. This gets to Der-K's comment above:

I think it would wise to spell out exactly what one wants to accomplish, then suggest changes accordingly.


Is the goal to speed up the pace of play? Get the time for games down to something that is shorter and more manageable? Both? What?
   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2019 at 09:28 AM (#5818223)
Limiting pitchers and pitching changes will increase the length of games, because it will increase the number of baserunners and amount of scoring. That's blindingly obvious, so those who advocate it must not think it will shorten the game.

Except that's not at all obvious. The 1930s were the highest scoring era in history, and they played the games in 2 hours. 2018 had longerr games than 2001.

If you score by making contact, it doesn't take very long.
   61. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 26, 2019 at 10:15 AM (#5818240)
The 1930s were the highest scoring era in history, and they played the games in 2 hours. 2018 had longer games than 2001.

And the highest scoring game in American League history, with 36 runs, 34 hits, and 21 walks, took all of 2 hours and 50 minutes to complete.
   62. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 26, 2019 at 10:21 AM (#5818245)
I’m surprised that’s the highest scoring game in AL history. The Cubs and Phillies have matched up for both a 26-23 game and a 23-22 game.
   63. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 26, 2019 at 10:40 AM (#5818254)
I like eliminating the warmup pitches because it's win-win

I don't think you necessarily need to eliminate the warm up pitches. Just give a 2 minute limit to the sub from when the manager steps on the field. He has 2 minutes to sub in a new pitcher. If the pitcher hustles, he can take a few warm ups. If the manager or reliever shuffles along, they lose out.

I like the Monday roster limit. Name the team for the week.
   64. Greg Pope Posted: February 26, 2019 at 10:49 AM (#5818260)
Is the goal to speed up the pace of play? Get the time for games down to something that is shorter and more manageable? Both? What?

The general consensus is that the goal is to speed up the pace of play. Game time is just a proxy for that.
   65. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 26, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5818262)
Is the goal to speed up the pace of play? Get the time for games down to something that is shorter and more manageable? Both? What?
1. Get pace of play back to reasonable level
2. Reduce lengthy interruptions of play at times when game should be most exciting
3. (dreaming here) Instill culture where delay is stigmatized rather than seen as necessary/desirable (would be far and away #1 if more feasible)
4. Move away from anonymous relievers for aesthetic reasons
5. Reduce incentives/opportunities for managering - more emphasis on the best baseball players playing baseball
6. Decrease game times (will come as a result of #1/2 - probably no need for significant additional measures just for this goal)
   66. JL72 Posted: February 26, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5818264)
The general consensus is that the goal is to speed up the pace of play. Game time is just a proxy for that.


Right, but it might be a bad proxy for it.

Because I can see something like this be implemented, pace of play picks up, but game times stay the same because of the increased number of bats. At which point some people argue it was not successful and want even more changes made.
   67. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2019 at 11:06 AM (#5818268)
Because I can see something like this be implemented, pace of play picks up, but game times stay the same because of the increased number of bats. At which point some people argue it was not successful and want even more changes made.

I would call that partially successful. If we can get the time between pitches down to ~15 seconds, that's goal one.

If that causes offense to spike, you then make changes to bring that under control, e.g. deaden the ball, expand the strike zone, thicker bat handles, higher mound, etc.

I don't think it's a major issue, because we know how to reduce offense if we need to.
   68. Baldrick Posted: February 26, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5818271)
1. Pace of play.
2. More balls in play.

Get those two things done and I'm not particularly worried about anything else.
   69. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2019 at 11:13 AM (#5818275)
1. Pace of play.
2. More balls in play.

Get those two things done and I'm not particularly worried about anything else.


Yes. And 2. will naturally lead to 1.

Ideally you want a world where pitchers throw strikes, and hitters swing early and often.
   70. Hysterical & Useless Posted: February 26, 2019 at 01:53 PM (#5818385)
bobm (#50), I think you're missing Andy's point. He was talking about the fact that artificial turf would often turn a Texas Leaguer (which, on grass, would be fielded by the outfielder and limited to a single) into a double or even a triple by taking a crazy huge bounce over the outfielder's head. And yes, the "Baltimore chop" goes back to John McGraw's time with the old Orioles, but until the proliferation of artificial turf in the 70s nobody had made a practice of trying to pound balls off the ground so they'd bounce over the infielders since the dead-ball era.
   71. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 26, 2019 at 08:03 PM (#5818520)
Although I like a good 1-0 pitchers duel, more offense sells.

I don't mind a good pitchers' duel, but the modern game strains the definition of the term.

If I've counted correctly, there were exactly 50 1-0 games in 2018 that ended in regulation. Those games involved a total of exactly 350 pitchers. Only five of them involved four total pitchers or less. Once you're involving five or more pitchers, I'm not sure you can consider it a "duel" of any kind.

Bonus trivia: Name the pitcher who threw the only 1-0 complete game loss of 2018.
   72. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2019 at 08:10 PM (#5818523)

I don't mind a good pitchers' duel, but the modern game strains the definition of the term.

If I've counted correctly, there were exactly 50 1-0 games in 2018 that ended in regulation. Those games involved a total of exactly 350 pitchers. Only five of them involved four total pitchers or less. Once you're involving five or more pitchers, I'm not sure you can consider it a "duel" of any kind.

Bonus trivia: Name the pitcher who threw the only 1-0 complete game loss of 2018.


Yeah, if a 1-0 game doesn't usually involve 2 CGs, the sport is broken.
   73. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: February 26, 2019 at 08:46 PM (#5818525)
Yeah, if a 1-0 game doesn't usually involve 2 CGs, the sport is broken.


That's a bit much. Even in the good old days, teams that were behind would PH for the pitcher even if he was pitching well. Sandy Koufax lost 5 games in his career in which he gave up only 1 run, and he completed none of them.
   74. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 26, 2019 at 09:00 PM (#5818526)
That's a bit much. Even in the good old days, teams that were behind would PH for the pitcher even if he was pitching well.

FWIW, the 50 1-0 9-inning games were exactly evenly split between NL and AL home parks. (Seriously, this sample is almost alarmingly easy to work with.) There were 169 pitchers used in the 25 NL games and 181 in the 25 AL games. (Which is to say, the difference is almost entirely the game in which the Angels used 8 pitchers in 9 innings while winning 1-0.)
   75. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2019 at 09:43 PM (#5818536)

That's a bit much. Even in the good old days, teams that were behind would PH for the pitcher even if he was pitching well. Sandy Koufax lost 5 games in his career in which he gave up only 1 run, and he completed none of them.


Right, but that's not an issue in one of the leagues now. I'll give you the NL CG loss is unlikely, but the SP should still go 7ish.
   76. Bote Man Posted: February 27, 2019 at 12:40 AM (#5818560)
Here's a good Twitter thread, complete with supporting charts and tables:

Jacob Rasch @serious_jammage
Here is the thing about the three batter minimum rule: it fixes a problem that doesn’t exist. Reliever appearances aren’t getting shorter, they’re just getting more numerous.

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