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Friday, July 19, 2019

The Five Trends That Could Define Baseball’s Future - The Ringer

Baseball is always evolving, partly through random mutations—like a suddenly supercharged baseball, assuming MLB is being honest about not intentionally tampering with the pill—but largely through the same principle that governs evolution in other cutthroat environments: Traits that aid an organism’s survival tend to propagate and multiply. Right now, we’re witnessing several tactics that used to be relative rarities cross the threshold at which they’ve actually become more common than not for at least a team or two. And if those plans pay off, the clubs embracing them today may be the bellwethers that tell us where the game is going.

Below, we’ll explain why we’re seeing certain teams double down on these tactics; whether every other team is destined to be doing the same six or so years from now; and whether that would be good or bad for baseball.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 19, 2019 at 03:44 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: trends

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 19, 2019 at 05:32 PM (#5863307)
Spoiler alert: More strikeouts.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: July 19, 2019 at 05:56 PM (#5863313)
Yeah, not particularly interesting -- pretty much the same "trends" we've been talking about for 5+ years. More Ks, more shifts, faster fastballs, more bullpen innings. The two new (to me) bits of info (which would seem to make it 6 trends) is that first-pitch swings (at least at pitches in the zone) are up and the proportion of fastballs is down.

Issues -- I was just skimming by that point but it wasn't clear to me that he had adjusted the fastball velocity data for the change in measurement point. Similarly with the relief/start data, he doesn't seem to have done anything to correct for openers (although he discusses the issue). On the latter, he also doesn't discuss the inherent roster limitations on reliever IP, the proposed 13 pitcher roster rule, the proposed 3-batter rule or the (possibly temporary) equivalence of starter/reliever ERA all pointing towards the idea this is about to level off (even if only by forcing it to).
   3. John Northey Posted: July 20, 2019 at 12:47 AM (#5863398)
Simple solution to the K and HR rates is to use heavier balls. Logically they couldn't be thrown as fast or hit as far. This would force new strategies and cut down the swing for the fences approach for all but the real power guys (like Vlad).

Shifting will probably clear itself up as more hitters try going the other way (again helping cut K's and increase singles) but a simple rule would be 2 infielders on each side of 2B when the pitch is thrown or it is a team balk (IE: not against the pitcher but the team might call it something else but same effect).

The early swings is a 'meh' thing - once pitchers adjust we'll see more balls in the dirt on the first pitch and hitters will adjust quickly.
   4. Itchy Row Posted: July 20, 2019 at 09:35 AM (#5863415)
The article doesn’t even mention pinch-running monkeys.
   5. Bug Selig Posted: July 20, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5863461)
Simple solution to the K and HR rates is to use heavier balls.
Home runs would go back up once the best 5000 pitchers on the planet were unable to pitch.
   6. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: July 21, 2019 at 10:47 PM (#5863676)
Smaller gloves
Smaller gloves
Smaller gloves

I think this is the cleanest solution. The game doesn’t change fundamentally but you make putting a ball in play more valuable.

I coach youth baseball and this is where “just make contact with two strikes” becomes an issue. The Def. Eff. at our league is about .500 and while I’m not expecting (or wanting) that level right now players have figured out that a little week grounder is really no better than a strikeout and with a runner on base can be worse (GIDP).
   7. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: July 22, 2019 at 01:50 AM (#5863680)
Simple solution to the K and HR rates is to use heavier balls. Logically they couldn't be thrown as fast or hit as far. This would force new strategies and cut down the swing for the fences approach for all but the real power guys (like Vlad).

Nah, if you make it easier to hit a ball, it makes it more rewarding to take big cuts, not less. Sure the average outcome of a big hack goes down, but so does that of shorter swings. And the difference between the two outcomes will grow, because the contact rate on big swings will go up significantly, and the contact rate on soft swings will go up much less.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: July 22, 2019 at 07:51 AM (#5863685)
Smaller gloves
Smaller gloves
Smaller gloves


Look, I get the logic here, but there's no chance this would ever change anything. The shift has already given hitters a dramatic and immediate incentive to change their hitting mindset, and most scrupulously ignore it. Smaller gloves would create such a tiny, subtle difference, no hitter would ever consciously decide to alter his approach. Although it would incrementally increase BABIP, the difference would certainly be small enough that it could get totally washed out by other quirks and factors.
   9. Lassus Posted: July 22, 2019 at 10:13 AM (#5863736)
I think this is the cleanest solution. The game doesn’t change fundamentally but you make putting a ball in play more valuable.

Wouldn't this increase the possibility of injury to the hands of the players? Hard to see that being approved by the union. Or parents.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: July 22, 2019 at 10:18 AM (#5863741)
Look, I get the logic here, but there's no chance this would ever change anything. The shift has already given hitters a dramatic and immediate incentive to change their hitting mindset, and most scrupulously ignore it. Smaller gloves would create such a tiny, subtle difference, no hitter would ever consciously decide to alter his approach. Although it would incrementally increase BABIP, the difference would certainly be small enough that it could get totally washed out by other quirks and factors.


Thank you. I have no problem with implementing smaller gloves as part of a complete diet of changes, but I just don't see how two inches at the end of the mitt is going to have any meaningful change.

By now, I suppose everyone knows my solution. It won't happen, though it seems ideal for Atlantic League implementation.



   11. . Posted: July 22, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5863752)
It won't happen, though it seems ideal for Atlantic League implementation.


Your solution is being implemented in the Atlantic League, but it's being done by making the bases bigger. (At least it was going to be, haven't double-checked to see if it has been.)
   12. PreservedFish Posted: July 22, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5863753)
By now, I suppose everyone knows my solution. It won't happen, though it seems ideal for Atlantic League implementation.


I think the same argument applies to your solution, unless you made a truly dramatic change to the length of the basepaths.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: July 22, 2019 at 12:39 PM (#5863824)
I think the same argument applies to your solution, unless you made a truly dramatic change to the length of the basepaths.


I think the impact of moving just to 87 would be pretty healthy, moreso than smaller gloves, (the infielders would have to move in, allowing more balls to go through as well as more balls to go over - also more ROE, which is just as important). But the nice thing, you can still trim a little more if the effect isn't large enough (I don't think you can go too low on the mitts - young people won't be interested in playing the sport if you used turn-of-the-century style gloves).

Of course, I absolutely support doing both (and a few more things, as necessary).






   14. DL from MN Posted: July 22, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5863864)
Sure the average outcome of a big hack goes down


But since pretty much every swing taken right now is a big hack, that means the average outcome goes down. Unless players literally start swinging out of their shoes but then it will be difficult to run to first base.
   15. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 22, 2019 at 03:31 PM (#5863944)
Current MLB2019 runs per game and OPS basically match MLB2007.

I don't see a problem with the game. I am not in search of a "fix". Baseball changes over time. That is part of it's beauty.

While 2007 was happening, many were still complaining that we needed to change the game to reduce offense.
   16. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: July 22, 2019 at 04:44 PM (#5863972)
But since pretty much every swing taken right now is a big hack, that means the average outcome goes down. Unless players literally start swinging out of their shoes but then it will be difficult to run to first base.

Sure, but I am not sure why that in itself is desirable. Home Runs are pretty much the only thing stemming the tide, in terms of run scoring, to prevent the dominance of the strikeout from returning MLB to deadball level scoring.

We shouldn't be trying to just reduce offense. Overall offense is not really a problem right now, it is the shape of the offense. Too many HRs, too many strikeouts, not enough BIP hits. If you don't address all of these areas, instead of singling out one, you are going to end up with a vastly imbalanced game.

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