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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Two Easy Ways To Make Baseball a Better Game

The natural opposition to increasing the strike zone is to wonder whether there would be more walks and a subsequent negative impact on the game. But the strike zone has changed multiple times over the years, and rarely has it made any real difference. In 1968, the Year of the Pitcher, the walk rate was 7.6% — not too far off from historical averages despite it being a historically great season for pitching. Even after MLB lowered and changed the mound and shrank the strike zone for the 1969 season, the walk rate only went up to 9.1%, and by 1972, the year before the designated hitter was introduced, it was back to its normal 8.5. The strike zone was shrunk again in 1988 and expanded at the bottom in 1996, but all the while, we’ve seen little change in walk rate. If we remove pitchers trying to hit, every season over the last 50 years has produced a walk rate between 7.9 and 9.2%. Pitching isn’t easy, but major league players have such incredible skill and incentive to avoid issuing walks that they will adjust to the strike zone, either by aiming more in it or by taking something off of their pitches to be more accurate…..

You can see how good pitchers are: Roughly two out of every five pitches hit the corner of the strike zone. Those pitches are strikes about 50% of the time when taken, and batters swing at them at about the same rate. When a pitcher throws a pitch in the middle of the plate, batters swing more than two-thirds of the time, and a ball is put in play on one out of every three pitches. When batters swing at pitches in the zone, they make contact a vast majority of the time. When a pitch moves from the edge of the plate toward the middle, the chances of a ball in play go up by 74%. The closer we get pitches to the middle of the plate, the more swings, more contact, and more action in the field we see.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 08:53 AM | 89 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: home runs

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 09:40 AM (#5994622)
Deader ball and smaller strike zone are decent ideas, but the two obvious winners are enforce the existing pitch clock, and no leaving the batter's box.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: December 17, 2020 at 09:58 AM (#5994624)
Deader ball and smaller strike zone are decent ideas, but the two obvious winners are enforce the existing pitch clock, and no leaving the batter's box.


Baseball has two major problems: dreadful pace and too few BIP. Your solution fixes one; theirs fixes the other.

I'd love to see theirs work. It's simple and doesn't require significant change to the way the game is played. I'm skeptical, for reasons I've outlined too many times, but that kind of less visible solution is definitely the step to take first over anything more radical.

   3. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 17, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5994630)
I'll say it again:

(1) Get in the damn box.
(2) Throw the damn ball.

You're welcome.
   4. asinwreck Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:01 AM (#5994638)
Deader ball, smaller zone? Sign me up.

Would love to see how Nick Madrigal fares with these adjustments.
   5. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5994640)
Increase the size of each of the three bases by 50% and MLB will make the running game great again. It will reduce injuries too.
   6. Lassus Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:21 AM (#5994643)
Deader ball, smaller zone? Sign me up.
No.
(1) Get in the damn box.
(2) Throw the damn ball.
Yes.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:23 AM (#5994645)
I have been calling for deadening the ball for awhile. Keep them in the box and put up a clock too, but I want to see more balls in play.
   8. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:25 AM (#5994646)
Deader ball, smaller zone? Sign me up.


Yes!

Increase the size of each of the three bases by 50%


Doubles the ad space!
   9. Lassus Posted: December 17, 2020 at 01:08 PM (#5994660)
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the physical changes brought from deadening the ball will have a miserable psychological effect on the players and the game.

This assertion is based on no particular fact or data, I fully understand; but it really doesn't seem like it would be well-accepted as just another change. Perhaps I'm way off.
   10. Dolf Lucky Posted: December 17, 2020 at 01:16 PM (#5994663)
I know no one cares, most especially the powers that be in MLB, but I'm currently of the belief that my fandom is spent.

That might change as we trudge through another long winter, but I think this year broke me.

I don't enjoy the aesthetics of the major league game, I don't enjoy the economics of the sport, and I don't have any confidence that the parties with an opportunity to address either will do so through any lens other than "How do I make the most money in the next 24 months?". Moreover, the league being completely impotent when it comes to enforcing its own rules is additional fuel for the fire.

I'm not the first to register similar sentiments on this site. But I'm really, really tired of ML baseball right now. And I think the worst part is that my primary feeling is not antipathy or anger, but apathy.

And as a coda: I was about to hit submit, but it struck me that the NBA and NFL have substantive management issues as well. Should I become a hockey fan?

   11. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 17, 2020 at 01:28 PM (#5994664)
The NBA has good relations between players and owners and is overall really well run. It is not perfect, of course, but if I had to pick just one league...
   12. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5994667)
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the physical changes brought from deadening the ball will have a miserable psychological effect on the players and the game.


Easily solved by distributing uppers in every locker room before the game.
   13. Dolf Lucky Posted: December 17, 2020 at 01:47 PM (#5994673)
The NBA has good relations between players and owners and is overall really well run. It is not perfect, of course, but if I had to pick just one league...


Yeah, that's fair, but honestly I was speaking more of management in the sense of caretaking the sport. The NBA may have decent labor/management relationships, but the aesthetics of the sport are just as bad as baseball.
   14. Mayor Blomberg Posted: December 17, 2020 at 01:49 PM (#5994675)
It will hurt players that live and die by the HR, but they'll adjust or be replaced by players who thrive at the new old game. If players are happier now than in the small-ball era, it's probably salaries anyway.
   15. Lassus Posted: December 17, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5994678)
It will hurt players that live and die by the HR

Granted, I'm dimestore psychologizing, but a deadened ball doesn't just affect HR. It will also affect ground balls and line drives, wouldn't it? If my CRACK hits are now THUD hits, meh. It simply seems like it would trouble a lot more than the HR hitters.

And, honestly, I wonder how different the pitching would end up? Maybe not at all! Maybe I just hate the term "deadened".

   16. flournoy Posted: December 17, 2020 at 02:12 PM (#5994680)
The NBA has good relations between players and owners and is overall really well run.


A great relationship with the Chinese government, too.
   17. winnipegwhip Posted: December 17, 2020 at 02:19 PM (#5994682)
I thought it was going to be

1) Get a gun
2) Find Manfred
   18. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: December 17, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5994683)
It will hurt players that live and die by the HR, but they'll adjust or be replaced by players who thrive at the new old game.


Which is why this would be very, very tough to get a union buy in. The current players were selected for the most part because of a skillset that would allow them to thrive in this environment. Radically changing the environment will drive a lot of them out of the game. Others, with different skillsets will replace them, but they aren't members, and even if overall salaries don't go down, I don't see how the union goes along with a rules change that will cost current members their jobs.

   19. SoSH U at work Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:03 PM (#5994692)
I know no one cares, most especially the powers that be in MLB, but I'm currently of the belief that my fandom is spent.


You're not alone. Provided it's an option this spring, I'm looking at independent leagues, college ball and the occasional high school game to get my fix. The quality is obviously not the same, but the games move quicker and the ball tends to be in play more frequently.
   20. bfan Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:22 PM (#5994698)
Does anyone worry about a dead ball killing offense too much? Everyone assumes home runs go down; true. But a deader ball means less ground balls go through the infield, which means less hits and a lower BABIP. It also means less balls get by outfielders into the gaps, meaning less doubles and triples and more balls caught in the outfield that by their velocity used to fly by outfielders to the wall. With batting averages way down now, why is all this good?
   21. bfan Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:30 PM (#5994701)
It will hurt players that live and die by the HR, but they'll adjust or be replaced by players who thrive at the new old game.


That strikes me as players who beat the ball into the ground so it rolls slowly enough so that an infielder who fields that bouncing ball cleanly might or might not throw the runner out at first. Color me unimpressed with and unexcited by the new breed of player.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:32 PM (#5994702)

Does anyone worry about a dead ball killing offense too much? Everyone assumes home runs go down; true. But a deader ball means less ground balls go through the infield, which means less hits and a lower BABIP. It also means less balls get by outfielders into the gaps, meaning less doubles and triples and more balls caught in the outfield that by their velocity used to fly by outfielders to the wall. With batting averages way down now, why is all this good?


That's part of my fear. That a dead ball won't just kill dingers, but all sorts of hits, and thus players will still have to swing from the heels, not really doing much to curtail Ks.


   23. bfan Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:40 PM (#5994705)
The NBA has good relations between players and owners and is overall really well run.


I am not sure I get this at all. It allows players to aggregate on a few uber teams so they can cavort with one another in fun cities, and flog other bad teams. The record of the top 3 teams in the NBA last season, translated to a 162 game schedule: 124-38; 119-43; and 119-43. Is that fun? It isn't for me.
   24. GuyM Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:56 PM (#5994710)
That's part of my fear. That a dead ball won't just kill dingers, but all sorts of hits, and thus players will still have to swing from the heels, not really doing much to curtail Ks.

The author does say "deaden the ball," but in the article what he is really advocating is increasing drag on the ball, i.e. going back to a pre-2016 baseball. That should reduce HRs but not impact other hits very much, and would presumably reduce the proportion of hitters focused on hitting the ball in the air. Pushing fences back should have a similar effect.

His argument that reducing the strike zone probably won't increase BB rates very much is interesting. If true, that probably would be a good step to take (IF done in conjunction with increasing drag and/or moving back fences -- otherwise it will yield a new HR surge). Worth testing this idea out in the minors.
   25. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:57 PM (#5994711)
I am not sure I get this at all. It allows players to aggregate on a few uber teams so they can cavort with one another in fun cities, and flog other bad teams. The record of the top 3 teams in the NBA last season, translated to a 162 game schedule: 124-38; 119-43; and 119-43. Is that fun? It isn't for me.


Well, none of that really addresses what I wrote. Of the major leagues, the NBA has a solid player-management relationship. The two obviously conflict, but they work together for the good of the sport (OK, really themselves, but money, hello!). There is less rancor and nonsense than MLB and way less "You are our serfs! Injure yourselves for more money for us!" than the NFL.

The NBA is really well run. When the NBA said "Nope, pandemic, we are shutting it down." it was a signal, and the other leagues and much of the nation followed along.

Now, you can not like free agency, the basic product, or the current competitive balance, be you. But none of that is what I was specifically talking about and all of that is a matter of taste anyway.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:59 PM (#5994712)
The author does say "deaden the ball," but in the article what he is really advocating is increasing drag on the ball, i.e. going back to a pre-2016 baseball. That should reduce HRs but not impact other hits very much, and would presumably reduce the proportion of hitters focused on hitting the ball in the air. Pushing fences back should have a similar effect.

His argument that reducing the strike zone probably won't increase BB rates very much is interesting. If true, that probably would be a good step to take (IF done in conjunction with increasing drag and/or moving back fences -- otherwise it will yield a new HR surge). Worth testing this idea out in the minors.


Thanks. That's more promising. And getting things started in the minors before introducing it at the major league level is probably the way to go, to address the issue Misirlou brings up.
   27. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:11 PM (#5994720)
Pushing fences back should have a similar effect.
Most contemporary ballparks have fan seating either on top of or within a few feet of the outfield fences.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:16 PM (#5994724)
Most contemporary ballparks have fan seating either on top of or within a few feet of the outfield fences.


Yes, any plan that includes biggening the field has to be a long-range one, because I don't think owners would want to incur the expense that would come with doing it to the existing structures.
   29. bfan Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:17 PM (#5994725)
Well, none of that really addresses what I wrote


I think it does in this way: the NBA is a player's league and the league, in its contractual structure, let's the players do what they want with what seems to be very little control at the owner level. There are many who say that is the way it should be; let the talent do what it wants, because it is the talent that people come to see. What that means is that Bronny goes to LA to be near his media business and Anthony Davis throws a snit and hints broadly about which teams can and cannot sign him long term, until the team salvages what they can and sends him to the team he wants. Boom; super team. That makes for what looks like a well run league and the cynic in me says yes, because the parents never exert any controls on the kids.

However, if Bryce Harper really wanted to go play for the Dodgers (I think he did, since Vegas was not an option), they did not have the salary limits that the Phillies did, so he could certainly sign with the Dodgers, but the MLB structure in place pushed him to another team, for more money.

Do you think Bauer and Springer and Realmuto are right now linking themselves to one team to go party and play to a championship the way Kyrie Irving, Durant and (I can't remember the third guy now) did, ending up in the Bronx?

Why is it, other than structural factors, that the big baseball free agents end up in different places (Machado and Harper in 2018; Cole and Rendon in 2019) and the big basketball free agents pair up?
   30. GuyM Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:23 PM (#5994729)
Most contemporary ballparks have fan seating either on top of or within a few feet of the outfield fences.

Right, which is why addressing ball drag first makes sense. Still, that doesn't mean you can't do anything regarding fences:
1) "a few feet" can make a huge difference in HRs allowed;
2) higher fences may be an option in some places, which accomplishes same thing;
3) there are sections in many parks without close seats, where fences could be moved out (more idiosyncratic parks is a plus, IMO).
   31. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:31 PM (#5994733)
Why is it, other than structural factors, that the big baseball free agents end up in different places (Machado and Harper in 2018; Cole and Rendon in 2019) and the big basketball free agents pair up?


Other than structural factors? I think the reason - and it is a structural factor - is individual basketball players have a ton more power in the NBA, largely because they are much much much more influential regarding outcomes. There are only 5 players playing at a time (compared to 9), and unlike baseball, the team can scheme each and every play towards the strength of their star players.

Since NBA players are more (relatively) powerful and influential the entire league is geared towards them. Baseball promotes ... well baseball. Basketball promotes star players. And since there is a cap - both in total and a max a player can be paid, and for star players pretty much every team in the league would happily pay LeBron, Giannis, or whoever the max amount, the players get to pick where they go.

As a fan of a non-destination team, I don't love that part of it, but nothing in that changes the fact that the league is really well run and has relative harmony between players and management.
   32. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:33 PM (#5994734)
Does anyone worry about a dead ball killing offense too much? Everyone assumes home runs go down; true.


You actually don't even need to move beyond home runs going down. Home runs are way, way up over the last 2 or 3 years, but run scoring really isn't. If it wasn't for the home runs, we'd be in one of the lowest-scoring eras in baseball history. Simply reducing home runs probably doesn't get MLB where it wants to be. You have to simultaneously also reduce strikeouts.
   33. bfan Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:36 PM (#5994739)
1) "a few feet" can make a huge difference in HRs allowed;
2) higher fences may be an option in some places, which accomplishes same thing;
3) there are sections in many parks without close seats, where fences could be moved out (more idiosyncratic parks is a plus, IMO).


Here is what you do then, to help offense as well. Since all MLB fields now (I think) have protective netting, reduce the foul ball territory by adding seats (premium seats at high prices!) in what is now foul ground, which will have a slightly positive impact on batting averages, at least getting back a little of the lost offense.
   34. SoSH U at work Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:42 PM (#5994742)
Here is what you do then, to help offense as well. Since all MLB fields now (I think) have protective netting, reduce the foul ball territory by adding seats (premium seats at high prices!) in what is now foul ground, which will have a slightly positive impact on batting averages, at least getting back a little of the lost offense.


That would be hard to do. Those seats would be at the same level as the existing front row, so the seats from the current row up to the new second row would have obstructed viewing of a game taking place at eye level.
   35. AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:45 PM (#5994744)
Maybe I just hate the term "deadened".


Not looking forward to a second deadball era? um, the Re-Deadening?

"La, la, la, la, la, la, laaaaaaaaaaa....."
   36. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:54 PM (#5994748)

That strikes me as players who beat the ball into the ground so it rolls slowly enough so that an infielder who fields that bouncing ball cleanly might or might not throw the runner out at first.


Bring back the Baltimore Chop!

As a deadball fan, I would love a truly-dead ball, though that isn't going to happen.
   37. JJ1986 Posted: December 17, 2020 at 05:09 PM (#5994750)
Kyrie Irving, Durant and (I can't remember the third guy now) did, ending up in the Bronx?
DeAndre Jordan. He isn't very good anymore.
   38. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 05:10 PM (#5994751)
I don't think owners would want to incur the expense that would come with doing it to the existing structures.

Owners paying their own way is for chumps. I'm sure they find some way to pawn it off on their host cities as "stadium maintenance."
   39. bfan Posted: December 17, 2020 at 05:12 PM (#5994752)
As a fan of a non-destination team, I don't love that part of it, but nothing in that changes the fact that the league is really well run and has relative harmony between players and management.


Do management and labor split money along pre-agreed upon percentages?

And by money, I would assume it is a net number, and not a gross number.

I wish all leagues did this, as it then aligns players and ownership so much better.
   40. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 17, 2020 at 06:03 PM (#5994757)
Re 17: If you do the first one, the second one is unnecessary.
   41. Jeff R. Posted: December 17, 2020 at 06:59 PM (#5994766)
Doubles the ad space!


Coincidentally, we're not that far away from another Spider-Man movie.
   42. Pirate Joe Posted: December 17, 2020 at 08:19 PM (#5994787)
Why is it, other than structural factors, that the big baseball free agents end up in different places (Machado and Harper in 2018; Cole and Rendon in 2019) and the big basketball free agents pair up?



Because in basketball two players are nearly enough. When a LeBron James and an Anthony Davis (or Durant and Curry, or James and Wade, etc.) hook up and end in the same place their team is an instant championship contender. If you are going to make basically the same money no matter where you end up why wouldn't you look for a place that maximizes your chances to win the championship?
   43. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: December 17, 2020 at 09:18 PM (#5994800)
I know no one cares, most especially the powers that be in MLB, but I'm currently of the belief that my fandom is spent.


You can be a baseball fan without watching the game. Taking four hours to watch men in pajamas running in circles is sort of a silly thing to do anyway. And Mike Trout's B-R page is a thing of beauty, even if you never seen him play. (Just to clarify here: I do watch baseball, albeit probably less than most around here.)

Coincidentally, we're not that far away from another Spider-Man movie.


Just in time for a re-boot of the Cleveland team! The marketing possibilities are endless!
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 09:20 PM (#5994801)
Because in basketball two players are nearly enough. When a LeBron James and an Anthony Davis (or Durant and Curry, or James and Wade, etc.) hook up and end in the same place their team is an instant championship contender. If you are going to make basically the same money no matter where you end up why wouldn't you look for a place that maximizes your chances to win the championship?

Which is why I find the NBA terribly boring. At the beginning of a typical season 4-5 teams have even a plausible shot of playing in the finals. The underdog never wins the first playoff round; EVER. The competition is a joke. College basketball is 10,000 times as interesting.

Why would anyone be a Knicks fan? It's just a catastrophic waste of time and money. They have zero chance. Even the worst run MLB and NFL teams luck into a playoff berth every now and then, and every team that makes the playoffs has a shot at the title.
   45. Howie Menckel Posted: December 17, 2020 at 10:02 PM (#5994806)
Why would anyone be a Knicks fan? It's just a catastrophic waste of time and money.

the atmosphere at MSG in the 1990s for playoff games was so intense that even those who only attended a handful of those games cling to their full or partial season tickets on the faint hope of living long enough to see the promised land once more before they perish.

imo, no franchise that failed to win a title during a decade of excellence ever matched that drama - Knicks vs Jordan, Knicks vs Riley, Knicks vs Reggie, rinse and repeat. you couldn't make it up, and unlike the more dominant teams, a Game 7 wasn't exactly a novelty (the Knicks had three of them in a row in 1994).

it's a better question about armchair fans, but I imagine that even just watching on TV back then was enough to vicariously sense the Sturm und Drang occurring posteason game after game, year after year.

ultimately, for the latter group I STILL don't get it - but "fan" is short for "fanatic."
   46. Walt Davis Posted: December 18, 2020 at 03:05 AM (#5994820)
Foul territory isn't really important anymore. Only about 1.8% of PA resulted in a foul-out in 2019. Turn them all into non-foulout PAs and, give or take, you boost BA from 252 to 257. But of course you couldn't get rid of all foul-outs.

I'm not gonna check all the years but I tried 1989 which does have some hit location data and foul-outs were about 2.5% then. So that's another 0.7% of exciting contact action we're missing from the good old days. :-)
   47. TomH Posted: December 18, 2020 at 07:10 AM (#5994822)
In addition to shrinking the strike zone, move the batters box another inch or two away from the plate. Fewer HBPs, fewer "how did he do that?" oppo field HR off of pitches on the outer edge, rewarding good control.
   48. GuyM Posted: December 18, 2020 at 08:27 AM (#5994829)
47. I think it's a mistake to simultaneously make changes that help the pitcher and the hitter -- then if anything changes you really have no idea what the effect of each change was. Plus, I think we mainly want to help hitters make more contact now (but not for HRs, if possible).
   49. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 18, 2020 at 09:51 AM (#5994837)
Why would anyone be a Knicks fan? It's just a catastrophic waste of time and money. They have zero chance.


You misspelled "Lions".
   50. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:14 AM (#5994843)
The NBA is upset-light, for several reasons, but "at the beginning of a typical season 4-5 teams have even a plausible shot of playing in the finals" and "the underdog never wins the first playoff round" are both overstatements.
If we look at the most recent playoffs, Miami was the lower seeded team in its first round matchup, which they won. And then won the next round, and the next, appearing in the finals. They did this despite lacking the factor that normally allows a team to exceed the regular season seeding, a star. (Which is how two years prior 4-seed Cleveland, which won a very close series against the 5 seed Indiana, then defeated higher seeded teams in the next two rounds to appear in the finals. Having LeBron would make them one of those 4-5 most favored squads.)

To be clear, what you like more as a sport and as a playoff structure is very much ymmv territory. Personally, I wish the playoffs were more like a coronation of the best team than an exercise in randomness (which the NCAA tournament, which I love, very much is), which is why I've argued for unpopular or little known ideas like making MLB playoffs best of 6 (spotting the higher seed a game, effectively - the NPB does this now and it works well, afaict).
   51. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:18 AM (#5994844)
I want: a deader ball, a slightly smaller strike zone (neither or which require union approval; SZ size being handled through enforcement v rules), rule changes that incentivize base stealing (which would also incentivize contact).
   52. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:22 AM (#5994845)
I love the NBA because of the athleticism and skill on display in every game.

Interestingly I love MLB because of the athleticism and skill on display in every game. In unrelated news, I love the NFL because of the athleticism and skill on display in every game.

And in all three cases, I like the social aspect of sports. Watching the game, discussing the game, and so on.

Note: I don't love the NHL because I don't understand Hockey well enough to fully appreciate the skill and athleticism, and am too busy to learn. I bet if I did study it though ...
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:32 AM (#5994849)
I love the NBA because of the athleticism and skill on display in every game.

Interestingly I love MLB because of the athleticism and skill on display in every game. In unrelated news, I love the NFL because of the athleticism and skill on display in every game.


I couldn't care less. I watch for competition. I love the John Kruk, David Wells type. Or Jose Altuve and other small guys. I want to watch ballplayers, not athletes, skills not natural gifts.

You're born tall and fast, that's boring. It's about as interesting as an IQ test. If the NFL and NBA were played by a bunch of 6' 200 lb guys, it would be way more interesting.
   54. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:59 AM (#5994853)
You don't think John Kruk or David Wells have skill or athleticism? Respectfully I disagree.
   55. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5994857)
Obviously, you don't make the big leagues without athletic ability. But baseball is very much a skills-based sport, more so than basketball, which is more of a skills-based sport than football.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 18, 2020 at 11:16 AM (#5994858)
You don't think John Kruk or David Wells have skill or athleticism? Respectfully I disagree.

Skill, yes, that's what I said; I like skill. Athleticism. not so much.
   57. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 18, 2020 at 11:24 AM (#5994860)
Hand-eye coordination is athletic. The skill of hitting without that athletic ability is problematic at best.

You just prefer some types of athleticism over other types. I am more catholic in my tastes.
   58. bfan Posted: December 18, 2020 at 01:59 PM (#5994908)
Foul territory isn't really important anymore. Only about 1.8% of PA resulted in a foul-out in 2019. Turn them all into non-foulout PAs and, give or take, you boost BA from 252 to 257. But of course you couldn't get rid of all foul-outs.

I'm not gonna check all the years but I tried 1989 which does have some hit location data and foul-outs were about 2.5% then. So that's another 0.7% of exciting contact action we're missing from the good old days. :-)


I like it; no more foul ball outs. 5 points to BA is 5 points; that is nothing to sneeze at. Excluding 2020 (weird year), since 2010 the league wide BA has bounced between a low of .248 and a high of .257, so 5 points is a pretty big deal, in that context. Then, you get to 2009 and before and we were in the .260's every year; those were the days.

Will we create a play where the fielder can leave one foot in fair territory and step into foul ground to catch a ball, for an out? We can have 5 minutes of replay at least twice a game as to whether the fielder kept one toe in fair territory or maintained possession as he hits the ground, just like in the NFL-how exciting!
   59. GuyM Posted: December 18, 2020 at 03:21 PM (#5994932)
5 points to BA is 5 points; that is nothing to sneeze at. Excluding 2020 (weird year), since 2010 the league wide BA has bounced between a low of .248 and a high of .257, so 5 points is a pretty big deal, in that context.

I'm not sure more foul balls is what the game needs. There are about 25 per game now, vs. 21 per game in 1990. Feels more like part of the problem than a solution to me.

And BA wouldn't improve by anything close to 5 points. You are trading certain outs not for hits but for continued ABs with at least 1 strike on the hitter. Not sure what the BA is after 1 strike exactly, but after 2 strikes it's .178. So maybe these guys hit .220 or so? That's more like a 1-point gain in BA, plus more dead time from the foul ball. Not a great trade.....
   60. . Posted: December 18, 2020 at 04:47 PM (#5994961)
You misspelled "Lions".


I'm both a Lions and a Knicks fan which I've now unfortunately bequeathed to my 15 year old son, which is probably in violation of upwards of a dozen child abuse statutes.

Not true that lower seeds never win first round series; the Knicks went to the 1999 Finals as an 8 seed. The fact that it happens so little makes it even cooler when it does; see, e.g., Golden State (8) over Dallas (1) 2007.

Just so everyone here who might not know, knows, the NBA being the most "well run" of the major sports has become almost a catechismic plank of the woke adult sports fan. It's no better run than any of the other sports really (*); its culture is just more whiteboy-friendly hip-hoppy than the other sports. It kicked out a racist owner who everyone had known to be a racist and an awful owner/human for like 25 years, which is seen as some kind of massively great thing, far in excess of what it should be. Marge Schott got kicked out of baseball 25ish years before; it's not that big a deal.

That said, NBA basketball is a great product and has been for at least 45 years. The fact that woke culture has lately kind of glommed onto it is really neither here nor there.

(*) And, contrary to the claims of this faction, its labor is probably more exploited than labor in any other sport. The max salary is probably lower in relation to star players' actual market value than in any other sport. Of course management is going to "get along well" with labor under those circumstances.

   61. John Northey Posted: December 19, 2020 at 03:54 PM (#5995058)
As annoying as it might be at first, a pitch clock ala the shot clock in basketball is needed. 20-30 second max between pitches. Once the ball is dead and tossed back to the pitcher the clock starts. If he wants to spend 25 seconds grabbing his crotch and spitting no problem, as long as he throws it before 30 is up. If the hitter asks for a time out he needs a real reason not just wanting to adjust his gloves or screw up the pitchers timing (ie: dirt in the eye) and umps need to be a lot more strict on it. If the pitcher doesn't throw it before 30 seconds are up an automatic ball. If the pitcher throws it and the hitter is trying to call time out an automatic strike even if the ball rolls to the plate unless there is a very, very good reason for that time out (ie: sudden blast of wind which would affect the umpire as well).
   62. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: December 19, 2020 at 04:48 PM (#5995061)
As a fan of a non-destination team, I don't love that part of it, but nothing in that changes the fact that the league is really well run and has relative harmony between players and management.

There some other NBA where the owners don't lock out the players resulting in lost games every time the CBA expires?
   63. Howie Menckel Posted: December 19, 2020 at 05:32 PM (#5995065)
Will we create a play where the fielder can leave one foot in fair territory and step into foul ground to catch a ball, for an out?

that will be college baseball. for MLB, you'll need to have both feet in fair territory.
:)
   64. Howie Menckel Posted: December 19, 2020 at 05:41 PM (#5995067)
"the Knicks went to the 1999 Finals as an 8 seed."

yes, in a 50-game, lockout-shortened season.

1998-99 win totals for the 4-to-8 seeds: 31, 29, 28, 28, 27. a made 3-pointer in a tight game, and the Knicks might have been the 6 seed - one more, and maybe 5.

   65. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 19, 2020 at 07:18 PM (#5995078)
As annoying as it might be at first, a pitch clock ala the shot clock in basketball is needed. 20-30 second max between pitches.

The current rule is 12 seconds with no one on; enforce it!

   66. John DiFool2 Posted: December 19, 2020 at 08:00 PM (#5995081)
I'm not sure more foul balls is what the game needs. There are about 25 per game now, vs. 21 per game in 1990. Feels more like part of the problem than a solution to me.


Cite? My guess would have been well over 50, for both teams.
   67. GuyM Posted: December 20, 2020 at 08:00 AM (#5995189)
25 foul balls per team game. So yes, about 50 per game.
   68. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: December 21, 2020 at 01:32 PM (#5995335)
Does anyone worry about a dead ball killing offense too much? Everyone assumes home runs go down; true. But a deader ball means less ground balls go through the infield, which means less hits and a lower BABIP. It also means less balls get by outfielders into the gaps, meaning less doubles and triples and more balls caught in the outfield that by their velocity used to fly by outfielders to the wall. With batting averages way down now, why is all this good?


That's interesting. I've been a proponent of deadening the ball, but this is a valid concern. In any case, pace of play is much more of an issue than HR/G.
   69. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: December 21, 2020 at 05:06 PM (#5995382)
That's interesting. I've been a proponent of deadening the ball, but this is a valid concern. In any case, pace of play is much more of an issue than HR/G.


Well, I don't see any reason why the effect would reverse the fact that ground balls become hits at a higher rate than fly balls, so while hits on balls in play will go down, more players will attempt to hit ground balls if the HR is out of play for them.

I'd imagine it would be a wash in the worst case.
   70. cookiedabookie Posted: December 21, 2020 at 05:15 PM (#5995386)
Honestly, we may need defensive boxes, where players have to stay until the pitch is released. This gets rid of the shift, which incentivizes putting the ball in play. It would also incentivize good bunting and speedy players because third basemen couldn't play in on the grass. Combine that with limiting pitchers to one pickoff per baserunner per base, and then you incentivize speed and contact hitting even more.
   71. GuyM Posted: December 21, 2020 at 05:20 PM (#5995388)
69. We don't have to guess about this. The ball was juiced in 1993-94 and BABIP went up about 15 points, a huge change. Deaden the ball and the reverse will happen. (But again, the author of this article does not actually want to deaden the ball, he wants to increase drag so fly balls don't carry as far.)

Year/BABIP
2000 .300
1999 .302
1998 .299
1997 .301
1996 .301
1995 .298
1994 .300
1993 .294
1992 .285
1991 .285
1990 .287
   72. Greg Pope Posted: December 21, 2020 at 06:01 PM (#5995399)
That's interesting. I've been a proponent of deadening the ball, but this is a valid concern.

The quoted article wants to increase drag, not deaden the ball. Assuming you could do that, it would reward line drives and even ground balls at the expense of towering fly balls. Seems exactly right.
   73. Baldrick Posted: December 21, 2020 at 06:12 PM (#5995405)
Increasing drag sounds great, if it can be done.

Here is a very dumb idea on the same theme: it would be great if there was just a regular 15-20 MPH wind blowing in from the outfield. What if they just installed some big fans?
   74. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 21, 2020 at 06:21 PM (#5995410)
What if they just installed some big fans?


The Brewers have already got that covered.
   75. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 21, 2020 at 06:31 PM (#5995413)
The quoted article wants to increase drag, not deaden the ball. Assuming you could do that, it would reward line drives and even ground balls at the expense of towering fly balls. Seems exactly right.

You could even do further if you could increase drag enough, you could "liven" the ball. Help grounders and liners, and hurt FBs.
   76. . Posted: December 22, 2020 at 08:50 AM (#5995458)
Any de minimis change to the composition of the ball is going to be blamed for every single future TJ surgery. It will be bullshit, but that won't matter.
   77. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 22, 2020 at 09:40 AM (#5995463)
Of course management is going to "get along well" with labor under those circumstances.

Why would the fact that good players are hugely underpaid lead to better relations with management? That makes no sense.
   78. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2020 at 09:43 AM (#5995464)
Any de minimis change to the composition of the ball is going to be blamed for every single future TJ surgery. It will be bullshit, but that won't matter.

Who cares? Just change the ball and don't tell anyone. That's what they've done in the past. The ball will still be within "specs" just at the other end of the range from where the ball is now. Blame it on new machinery.
   79. bfan Posted: December 22, 2020 at 09:58 AM (#5995469)
The quoted article wants to increase drag, not deaden the ball. Assuming you could do that, it would reward line drives and even ground balls at the expense of towering fly balls. Seems exactly right.

You could even do further if you could increase drag enough, you could "liven" the ball. Help grounders and liners, and hurt FBs.


Doesn't this strike you as a degree of precision not yet proven? BTW-I assume the increase drag on the ball will lead to slower pitches, correct?
   80. TomH Posted: December 22, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5995475)
Guy 48: the proposal on the table already has two items, one of which helps the pitcher, the other the batter. That is actually needed unless you want 5.5 runs per game or 3.5 runs per game.

One of the big issues in the game is increased KOs. The best ways to address this are either
- move the mound back
or
- reward batters who make contact vs power

Moving the mound back should not be hard. They moved it multiple FEET in the 1890s and no one died. Moving it back 9 inches or so would give the batters more than 1% additional reaction time and slow the ball a teeny bit when it arrives. Pitchers who are the world's best in their craft could adjust. I would prefer moving the mound over tinkering with the strike zone, as umpires will become more INconsistent among each other when the zone is changed on them.
   81. Rally Posted: December 22, 2020 at 10:22 AM (#5995479)
His argument that reducing the strike zone probably won't increase BB rates very much is interesting. If true, that probably would be a good step to take (IF done in conjunction with increasing drag and/or moving back fences -- otherwise it will yield a new HR surge). Worth testing this idea out in the minors.


I buy the argument that walk rates, after an adjustment period, will settle into historically normal zone. But it won't be the same pitchers on the mound. I think we'd find that a lot of the 95-99 MPH bullpen guys who walk 4 batters per 9 right now will not be able to throw enough strikes to survive. They will have to be replaced with guys that throw 88-93 with good control, but who don't have enough stuff to avoid the longball. These pitchers are stuck at AAA now or are up and down from the big leagues as injury depth. If the longball was less of a threat, their pitching abilities will be more valuable.

Not looking forward to a second deadball era? um, the Re-Deadening?


That which is dead can never die.
   82. Rally Posted: December 22, 2020 at 10:23 AM (#5995481)
I would prefer moving the mound over tinkering with the strike zone, as umpires will become more INconsistent among each other when the zone is changed on them.


Maybe that part should be rolled out with robo-umps.
   83. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2020 at 10:29 AM (#5995484)
Maybe that part should be rolled out with robo-umps.

Robo-umps should only be rolled out when there can be an actual robot standing behind home plate making the calls and hand gestures.
   84. SoSH U at work Posted: December 22, 2020 at 10:58 AM (#5995496)
Moving the mound back should not be hard.


If we're contemplating moving the mound back, we should just bite the bullet and move the bases in. That would undeniably make contact more valuable than striking out.
   85. kthejoker Posted: December 22, 2020 at 11:01 AM (#5995497)
I play MLB The Show with my son and he's never complained that the game is boring (even when he's just a spectator) precisely because of pace of play - it skips all the boring things about baseball (the walk-up, stepping out of the box, pitcher-catcher negotiation, etc) and all that's left is pitch-swing-hit-run-field-throw.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk on why eSports are the future.
   86. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2020 at 11:08 AM (#5995501)
If we're contemplating moving the mound back, we should just bite the bullet and move the bases in. That would undeniably make contact more valuable than striking out.

90' bases is far more ingrained in baseball than 60'6". The mound has been monkeyed with before. Also, moving the mound back helps safety, moving the bases (and fielders and runners) closer to the plate makes line-dives more dangerous.
   87. SoSH U at work Posted: December 22, 2020 at 11:25 AM (#5995504)
90' bases is far more ingrained in baseball than 60'6". The mound has been monkeyed with before. Also, moving the mound back helps safety, moving the bases (and fielders and runners) closer to the plate makes line-dives more dangerous.


Please. Moving the infielders in one or two steps (which is deeper than they play when they voluntarily play the infield in) is not going to threaten anyone's well-being. Making pitchers work harder to throw strikes very well might.

And let's not pretend the pitching distance is something that has been routinely monkeyed around with. The distance was set in the 1800s. It's every bit as ingrained in the game today as 90 feet.
   88. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2020 at 11:33 AM (#5995509)
Please. Moving the infielders in one or two steps (which is deeper than they play when they voluntarily play the infield in) is not going to threaten anyone's well-being. Making pitchers work harder to throw strikes very well might.

I don't care at all about arm injuries due to pitching. I care about line drives to the head. No one would notice the mound moving 6-9". Most fans probably don't know it's 60'6".
   89. SoSH U at work Posted: December 22, 2020 at 11:53 AM (#5995511)
I don't care at all about arm injuries due to pitching. I care about line drives to the head. No one would notice the mound moving 6-9". Most fans probably don't know it's 60'6".


If you want to protect against line drives, mandate some protective headgear for pitchers. That's going to accomplish a hell of a lot more than three inches.

As for whether fans notice, I don't care. Moving the bases in would actually accomplish what we want it to - make putting the ball in play more valuable than it currently is. We'd see more balls get through and over infielders and we'd see more activity on the basepaths.

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