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Saturday, December 21, 2019

What Defined MLB in the 2010s?

As the decade comes to a close, we’re left with plenty of MLB storylines to unpack over the last 10 years. In a loaded, perhaps impossible exercise, we asked our baseball staff to outline what defined the 2010s to them. Here’s to the 2020s.

So, how would all of you answer this question?

 

QLE Posted: December 21, 2019 at 01:01 AM | 73 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 2010s, analytics, home runs, reviews, statcast, tanking, the sky is falling

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   1. bbmck Posted: December 21, 2019 at 01:47 AM (#5910253)
Mike Trout
   2. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 21, 2019 at 02:06 AM (#5910254)
Hmmmmm, couple things come to mind;

Variety - I don’t know if the stats necessarily back it up but it felt like the post season had a bit more variety to it than we’ve seen the last couple of decades. A few teams that hadn’t made a run in awhile were able to go deep.

Openers - The Opener arrived in full force the last couple of years and even with rule changes I think the concept of a starting rotation as we know it may well be dead.

Youth/Athleticism - We have seen a return to the dynamic five tool player. It seems that every team has a guy who can do it all with guys like Trout, Betts, Lindor etc...the best in the game. Meanwhile the big slugger has been generally phased out though not completely eliminated.
   3. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: December 21, 2019 at 02:17 AM (#5910257)
Everybody standing clustered on the right side of the infield, watching four 99 MPH relief pitchers take their turns.
   4. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 21, 2019 at 02:34 AM (#5910259)
Terrible commissionering.

Ever lengthening games.
   5. bbmck Posted: December 21, 2019 at 03:00 AM (#5910261)
Playoff teams:

2010-2019 (96 teams)

7 - LAD, NYY
6 - STL
5 - ATL, OAK, TEX, WSN
4 - BOS, CHC, CLE, DET, HOU, SFG, TBR

3 - BAL, CIN, MIL, MIN, PIT
2 - ARI, COL, KCR, NYM, PHI, TOR
1 - LAA
0 - CHW, MIA, SDP, SEA

1998-2009 (96 teams)

11 - NYY
8 - ATL, BOS
7 - STL
6 - LAA
5 - HOU, MIN, OAK

4 - ARI, CHC, CLE, LAD
3 - CHW, NYM, PHI, SDP, SFG
2 - COL, SEA, TEX
1 - DET, MIA, MIL, TBR
0 - BAL, CIN, KCR, PIT, TOR, WSN

1977-1997 (96 teams)

8 - LAD
7 - ATL, NYY
6 - KCR, PHI
5 - OAK, TOR
4 - BAL, BOS, HOU, PIT, STL

3 - CIN, CLE, LAA, SFG
2 - CHC, CHW, DET, MIL, MIN, NYM, SDP, SEA
1 - COL, MIA, TEX, WSN
0 - ARI, TBR

Even with 20 post seasons and much greater potential for a franchise to dominate, every team that existed makes the playoffs including two in their first 4 playoff seasons.
   6. Baldrick Posted: December 21, 2019 at 04:42 AM (#5910263)
Basically the same as Gonfalon, but my answer is a parade of anonymous relievers who all throw 100 MPH and every hitter is Rob Deer.

Getting away from aesthetics, it's been a decade of surprising teams. The Giants winning three WS, the Royals emerging from abject terribleness, the Cubs finally winning, the Red Sox going from WS winners to terrible to WS winners to terrible. There are strong general undercurrents of stability but there have been very few years that felt like fait accomplis.

Also, Mike Trout.
   7. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 21, 2019 at 09:11 AM (#5910270)
TTO
   8. winnipegwhip Posted: December 21, 2019 at 09:55 AM (#5910271)
TTO


I agree with John Thorn's comments on the SABR podcast a couple weeks ago....there is a 4th true outcome now and it is boredom.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 21, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5910274)
I agree with John Thorn's comments on the SABR podcast a couple weeks ago....there is a 4th true outcome now and it is boredom.

Concur.
   10. The Honorable Ardo Posted: December 21, 2019 at 11:17 AM (#5910279)
The general acceptance of sabermetric principles by all 30 teams, and the transformation of every plate appearance - no matter how low-leverage - into a life-or-death endeavor.
   11. base ball chick Posted: December 21, 2019 at 12:35 PM (#5910291)
4 true outcomes is dead right

but even mmore important is that the players proved true the aesop's fable about the oaks and the ash tree.
and also, assuming that because you have always won in the past means you no longer have to keep a marvin miller as head of your union. players got no idea how to fight the wall street raiders now running front offices

and it never stops surprising me how many "fans" side with the owners - why shouldn't the owners keep all the money?

i don't get why people worship the rich only because they are rich. especially when it is THEM that the rich are preying on
   12. Jaack Posted: December 21, 2019 at 01:51 PM (#5910308)
Can't argue much with TTO. A few years ago I thought that the emphasis on shifting would eventually lead to a re-emergence of spray hitters to take advantage, but that hasn't seemed to happen.

The death of the workhorse starting pitcher is a big one for me. There are currently no active pitchers with 3000 career innings. Verlander will get there this year and Greinke should as well. But I'm not sure if anyone else will ever get there. Hamels needs two full seasons as a starter - possible, but not guaranteed. Jon Lester probably needs three, which I doubt he'll get. Max Scherzer is 710 innings away - I think he'll get there. Kershaw is in a similar situation. Waingwright, Porcello, and Price are the only other pitchers over 2000 IP for their career, and I doubt any of them go for another 1000 innings at this point. Perhaps Bumgarner hangs around long enough to get there.

Complete games dying off is another big (and related) one. There were only 29 last season. As recently as 2014 there were 118. In the postseason it's even worse. The only way I could see a guy not named Verlander or maybr Bumgarner throwing a complete game in the postseason is if they have a perfect game going. And even then, if it's an elimination game, they could get pulled.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: December 21, 2019 at 03:46 PM (#5910324)
The Cubs won a World Series. Nothing else mattered.

players got no idea how to fight the wall street raiders now running front offices

That's a very good way of putting it.

Many of the above can be summarized as "baseball is more openly a business than ever before."
   14. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: December 21, 2019 at 04:06 PM (#5910326)
"baseball is more openly a business than ever before."

It was the decade Major League Baseball got in bed with gambling interests rather than insisting they be kept beyond arm's length.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: December 21, 2019 at 04:19 PM (#5910329)
I have a strong feeling it could be the last decade I really cared about it.
   16. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 21, 2019 at 04:43 PM (#5910330)
TTO-ball really only took off in the past three or four years--home runs, particularly. Several years in the first half of the decade featured run scoring levels from the mid-80s and guys leading the league in home runs with fewer than 40.

The two biggest constants have been strikeouts and short relief appearances--those two things have just gone up and up and up and up. And length of games, of course.

It's impossible to know the future (see the Bill James article from the NHBA written in 1999 in which he listed six things he felt very confident would happen soon--and was dead wrong on four of them. One of them was that innings pitched by starters, and complete games, would begin to go up, for instance.) But, since guessing is fun, I'll guess one thing: it feels a lot to me like the current TV money is a bubble, which will burst at some point in the 2020s, and that may bring the most sweeping changes the game has seen since the dawn of free agency.
   17. Sweatpants Posted: December 21, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5910336)
The general acceptance of sabermetric principles by all 30 teams, and the transformation of every plate appearance - no matter how low-leverage - into a life-or-death endeavor.
Unless the score is far enough out of reach, or the score has been tied for long enough that it's become time for the utility infielder to take his turn on the mound and see what happens.

I agree, though, that the theme of present-day baseball seems to be uniformity - pretty much everyone now agrees on the best strategies for team-building, for pitching, for defensive alignment, for hitting approach. That's largely weeded out types of players that weren't uncommon even a decade ago.
   18. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 21, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5910340)
TTO-ball really only took off in the past three or four years--home runs, particularly. Several years in the first half of the decade featured run scoring levels from the mid-80s and guys leading the league in home runs with fewer than 40.

the increase was indeed in the second half of the decade:

2010 29.5
2011 29.2
2012 30.4
2013 30.3
2014 30.3
2015 30.8
2016 32.3
2017 33.5
2018 33.7
2019 35.1

but fueled almost equally by increases in HRs and K's
   19. Howie Menckel Posted: December 21, 2019 at 08:03 PM (#5910356)
looking ahead to "What defined MLB in the 2020s?"

@AP_Sports·1h

BREAKING: People familiar with talks tell The Associated Press that MLB umps have agreed to cooperate with computerized strike zone.
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 21, 2019 at 08:38 PM (#5910359)
People familiar with talks tell The Associated Press that MLB umps have agreed to cooperate with computerized strike zone.
”Fine, as long as we don’t have to tell the players to stop dicking around and play. Anything but that.”
   21. Walt Davis Posted: December 21, 2019 at 10:01 PM (#5910370)
it feels a lot to me like the current TV money is a bubble, which will burst at some point in the 2020s

I used to think this was true and I suppose I still do, but less so. I mean the "TV" money will go but I think it's more likely to be replaced by streaming money now. We have already seen the "death" of cable TV (not as dead as it looked like it would be 5-10 years ago) already being replaced by the wide range of streaming services. People used to pay $100 a month for TV service, now they're already closing in on $100+ a month on internet plus streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney, CBS, Amazon, Apple, MLB, soccer, etc. -- they might all be cheaper individually and maybe require less time commitment but a person pretty quickly gets up to $50-60 a month for content.

It may be a bit more personalized -- i.e. you no longer need pay for HGTV if you don't want -- but you'll have to fork over plenty for what you do want (and you'll still be subsidizing all the crap on Netflix you don't watch). It's still possible people/culture will just change and enough of us will rather watch free cat videos than pay for professionial content that the entire "TV" market will collapse. And of course there's no reason to think baseball will become more popular anytime soon so that revenue may well be essentially capped at where it is right now even in the best-case scenario.

Still one suspects it's just a matter of time before you local ISP/mobile service is offering you internet/phone, "free" Netflix and tiered packages covering other streaming services for a set monthly price.
   22. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 21, 2019 at 10:03 PM (#5910371)
Related to the comments above about fewer outings for starters is the ever increasing size of the pitching staff, exacerbated by the AAA shuttle. Teams formally use 12 or 13 man pitching staffs, but effectively have about 16 or 17 man pitching staffs because at least half of the bullpen is treated as utterly replaceable and interchangeable.
   23. PreservedFish Posted: December 21, 2019 at 10:49 PM (#5910379)
Does anyone here still like baseball? It's impossible to pretend that the game hasn't gotten more boring, but still, there's plenty to like.

Extraordinary young talent. I mean, Mike Trout! Seems like we've had wave after wave of superb young players.

The game is basically free of steroid controversy now. Whether or not PED use is in fact widespread and undetectable or unknown, at least people have shut up about it. Big improvement.

Excellent parity - the Astros, Cubs, Royals and Nationals all win, and the Yanks did not. The A's and Rays keep making runs, even though the rich teams have adopted their methods. Plenty of mid-market teams have been active with the biggest free agents - a decade ago it looked like we were moving towards permanent haves vs have nots, like the big European soccer leagues, but this appears to have been mostly corrected.

Statcast is amazing. Analytics might be driving more boring approaches but I love the data that we have access to now - the type of analysis that they'll do daily on Fangraphs using PitchFx info, for example, illustrated with GIFs, would have been mindblowingly awesome a decade ago.

I personally think that shifting is super cool, a radical reexamination of ancient assumptions that makes the game more fluid and unpredictable.

MVP and GG voters stopped being dumbasses. (This has made the awards more boring, so I guess it's a mixed blessing.)

MLBTV is pretty cool, and the game has never been more accessible. You can now watch condensed games in high quality for free. Here's one I chose at random, Rangers vs Braves, September 6th, 2017. How extraordinary is that?
   24. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 21, 2019 at 10:50 PM (#5910380)
I’m with the fish. There are things to improve but the game is truly remarkable, I’d still rather watch baseball than anything else.
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: December 21, 2019 at 10:55 PM (#5910381)
Does anyone here still like baseball? It's impossible to pretend that the game hasn't gotten more boring, but still, there's plenty to like.


I still love baseball. I just suspect, in my case, I'll get my fill from sources other than MLB in the coming years.
   26. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 22, 2019 at 06:46 AM (#5910385)
the transformation of every plate appearance - no matter how low-leverage - into a life-or-death endeavor.


The arias between pitches have been a nice touch.
   27. Baldrick Posted: December 22, 2019 at 07:22 AM (#5910386)
Does anyone here still like baseball? It's impossible to pretend that the game hasn't gotten more boring, but still, there's plenty to like.

Still love it, though I'm getting closer to regarding soccer as my favorite sport--a trend that's been happening slow motion for about 15 years but has definitely accelerated as baseball has grown more tedious to watch.

That's true even though (as you say) many of the larger storylines of the past decade have actually been wonderful. As soon as you pull back from the close minute-to-minute level, baseball right now is probably more fun than it's ever been.

I will admit that my team (Seattle) being so relentlessly awful over the years has definitely dampened things a bit. I'm more a fan of the game than of a single team, but having a team I'm specifically excited to watch goes a long way to ramp me up from generally engaged to enthusiastic follower.
   28. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: December 22, 2019 at 08:14 AM (#5910393)
Complaining. That's the answer. That is always the answer. Nobody ####### complains about their sport like baseball peoples. It's unreal.

And I will complain but not about baseball but about what is it about the midwest where getting up at like 5 a.m. is somehow necessary even during holidays? I love my family and visiting is great but can we chill out already??
   29. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: December 22, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5910423)
I mean the "TV" money will go but I think it's more likely to be replaced by streaming money now.

And all these services need content. Hell, there are three pro lacrosse leagues now! Three!
   30. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: December 22, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5910447)
Complaining. That's the answer. That is always the answer. Nobody ####### complains about their sport like baseball peoples. It's unreal


This is true but in my opinion extends to non baseball fans. When People learn I’m a fan they seem compelled to explain to me what they don’t like about baseball. I don’t like football but I don’t feel the need to share the why of it. Just “I’m not really a football fan.”

And I will complain but not about baseball but about what is it about the midwest where getting up at like 5 a.m. is somehow necessary even during holidays? I love my family and visiting is great but can we chill out already??


5AM is still last night. That’s horrifying,
   31. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: December 22, 2019 at 01:30 PM (#5910450)
Can't argue much with TTO. A few years ago I thought that the emphasis on shifting would eventually lead to a re-emergence of spray hitters to take advantage, but that hasn't seemed to happen.


Problem is, if you have no tendency as to where your balls in play go, the defense won't shift on you.
   32. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 22, 2019 at 01:34 PM (#5910451)
What impressed me most was just how much most of the men around me hated, really hated, being there. As far as I could tell, nobody seemed to enjoy, in the way that I understood the word, anything that happened during the entire afternoon. Within minutes of the kick-off there was real anger (“You’re a DISGRACE, Gould. He’s a DISGRACE!” “A hundred quid a week? A HUNDRED QUID A WEEK! They should give that to me for watching you.”)


Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby
   33. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 22, 2019 at 01:40 PM (#5910453)
players got no idea how to fight the wall street raiders now running front offices

That's a very good way of putting it.

Many of the above can be summarized as "baseball is more openly a business than ever before."


bbc & Walt nailed it. Just want to concur 'em.
   34. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: December 22, 2019 at 01:45 PM (#5910456)
Complete games dying off is another big (and related) one. There were only 29 last season.


Catfish Hunter in 1975 had 30. The last guy to get 20 was Fernando! in 1986. The last guy to get 10 was James Shields with 11 in 2011.
   35. Walt Davis Posted: December 22, 2019 at 03:35 PM (#5910469)
I still love baseball. I don't even find it particularly more boring than I did 10-20 years ago. (It's simply never been an action-packed game.) My issus is living on the other side of the world so game times are somewhere between 4 am and noon which is not conducive to weekday viewing. Perhaps I'd be more bored if I watched more of it. I certainly wouldn't object to the game being sped up in sensible ways.
   36. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 22, 2019 at 04:50 PM (#5910484)
Extraordinary young talent

This. It even makes up for the strikeouts. The NFL and NBA have also been similarly blessed.
   37. Blastin Posted: December 22, 2019 at 09:29 PM (#5910517)
The only time baseball bored me was during the scoring slump earlier this decade. I hate when an .800 ops was strong.

   38. winnipegwhip Posted: December 22, 2019 at 09:46 PM (#5910518)
Can't argue much with TTO. A few years ago I thought that the emphasis on shifting would eventually lead to a re-emergence of spray hitters to take advantage, but that hasn't seemed to happen.


The problem is every organization treats this stuff as gospel and copies these theories. I wish there were some teams that would have a concentrated effort to go against the norm. But no one is brave enough. Try going back to a St. Louis Cardinals or KC Royals of the 1980's style of offense. It would take time but if a concentrated effort was made in acquiring young talent and developing those concepts in the lower minor leagues it might bear fruit. It could be done along with acquiring a few sluggers in the draft. If an organization could develop a couple of Billy Hamiltons who could hit better it would certainly help an offense. But with the minors soon dropping to 4 teams per organization it doesn't appear it would ever happen.

   39. Howie Menckel Posted: December 22, 2019 at 09:51 PM (#5910521)
The only time baseball bored me was during the scoring slump earlier this decade. I hate when an .800 ops was strong.

good thing you're too young to remember 1968, when the Yankees AVG was .214 - with a .609 OPS!

the highest was Mickey Mantle at .782 - and he was so depressed at his decline (and his knees) that he retired.


   40. Walt Davis Posted: December 23, 2019 at 08:14 PM (#5910750)
Those Cards teams are somewhat mis-remembered.

The 1982 Cards scored "just" 685 runs, 5th in the NL. They led in OBP and SB but were just 8th in SLG. Their BA was 2nd at 264 ... 3 NL teams this year hit 265. 685 runs would have placed them 13th in the NL.

The 1985 Cards did score 747, leading the league ... but again had a BA of just 264. Their 314 steals were a lot of fun, barely short of the combined total of the top 3 NL teams in 2019. Still those 747 runs would have put them slightly below-average in 2019.

The 1987 Cards got it up to 798 runs, good for 2nd (it was the big HR year). They hit 263 that year but that was only 6th-best so overall the league BA was certainly higher than 2019. Their 798 runs would have put them 7th in 2019, just above average.

If you tried to replicate that offense, it's almost unimaginable that the K-rate wouldn't be higher. The 1987 team K'd 14.8% of the time while the lowest K-rate in 2019 was 19.5%. That 14.8% was below-average for the time but only by 0.8%. That jump in K-rate is gonna take a sizable chunk out of the BA. The 115 ISO would put them dead last by a good bit (Marlins 134, average 179). So even the average-ish performances of 1985 and 1987 probably aren't achievable anymore with that approach. They would presumably still excel defensively which would help make up for (say) a 10th-place finish in scoring but you're gonna need outstanding pitching to really succeed.

Meahnwhile, for 1983, 84 and 86, the Cards were a 500 team. Those teams finished 5th, 6th and 12th in scoring with BAs of 270, 252 and 236 and a high of 663 runs which would have topped only the Marlins in 2019.

Finally,

Cards 2019: 245/322/415, 764 R (10th), +44 RTZ (+55 DRS)
Cards 1987: 263/340/378, 798 R (2nd/7th), +11 RTZ

Some other stuff: 246 vs 252 doubles; 24 triples vs 49 triples, 210 vs 94 HRs, 116 vs 248 SBs, 1336 vs 1449 hits. So 113 more hits (.7 per game) vs 116 more HR (179 more TB).

So why would you follow that as a strategy? You might find yourself in a situation where the best approach available to you is to try to rely on speed and contact (i.e. most of your power-hitting prospects failed and you can't afford FA replacements) but it's hard to see how follwing that strategy could even drag you up to a 10th place offense in today's game. Even if you could get the team K-rate down to 15%, you'd be lucky to get as high as 6th.

Now just as it's almost certain the team K-rate would be higher than 15% no matter how hard you tried, the team ISO would probably be above 115 unless you went out of your way to suppress it (and why would you). A "80s Cards" approach in today's game probably looks more like 260/335/420 which would be about league-average in OPS and probably a bit above in scoring thanks to the OBP/SLG trade-off. Add good defense and you should be above-average overall in position player production.

Offensively, the closest to that in 2019 was Pitt with a BA of 265 and SLG of 420 but they didn't walk much (321 OBP is lousy on a 265 BA). They were also lousy defensively. A better walking and defending Pirates might well add 12 wins, bringing them up to +5 WAA for position players. Add average pitching and you can get them to mid-80s in projected wins.

So probably at best following an "80s Cards" position player strategy gets you up to average offensively, add a few wins for defense. But that's where those other years of the 80s Cards comes in. That's probably the best-case scenario for this strategy in today's game -- i.e. I'm using 1987, their highest-scoring year, to get them up to an average 2019 offense; most of the time, they'd probably be 12th or something.

Some of that is just the fundamentals of baseball -- outside of the days when nobody could field and/or everybody hit 350, BIP have never been particularly productive. Run all they did, according to bWAR, the Cards added only 4 runs in 1982, 18 in 1985 and 19 in 1987. The 2019 Cards are credited with +12 for baserunning. (The 1985 team was a staggering +13 on DP avoidance but the other years were nothing special and 2019 still hangs in there.) Some of it is the big increase in Ks due to pitchers.
   41. Walt Davis Posted: December 23, 2019 at 09:02 PM (#5910753)
By the way, the first year for which we have "hit location" splits available is 1988. That year the NL hit 279/350 on BIP; in 2019, they hit 298/387. So on a rate basis, they are already being rewarded more for BIP. But of course BIP were generated at a much higher rate in 1988. The IP% was 73; now is 63.

Combine those and in 1987, a PA resulted in a BIP hit 20.4% of the time; in 2019, it was 18.8%. At 78 PA per game, that's 1.25 fewer BIP hits. The ISO is a bit higher so a few of those missed hits are compensated by extra bases.

Meanwhile the HR rate has nearly doubled from 1.8% to 3.5%. The difference in BIP-hit rates is 1.6 percent; the difference in HR rates is 1.7 percent so we have pretty much completely replaced a BIP single with a HR. It's far from clear why that is a less exciting game. The BA in 1988 was a measly 248; in 2019 it was 251. Compared with 1988, we really have replaced some singles with HRs and some ground-outs and fly-outs with Ks.

Now I chose 88 only because it was the year splits started. But it was a very dull year. But 1987 was a very "exciting" year. For the 80s, the BA topped 255 just 3 times (max 261 in 1987, min 246 in 1989). For the 1980s as a whole, the NL hit 254; for the 2010s they hit 252. So it really has been replacing singles (and some triples) with HRs and IP outs with Ks while increasing run-scoring by about 70 runs per team-season. I completely agree that Ks are boring but I still like HRs and never had any love for ground-outs to 2nd and easy FBs to LF. We've also traded off 300 hitters for seeing fewer guys who just can't hit (OPS<650 say).

For 1982-89 NL (to get 1981 out of it), there were 1,393 hits per team-season; for 2012-19, that was 1,398. For 2019 alone it was 1,392. You are seeing just as many hits as you did in the 80s, they're just skewed much more towards HRs and away from singles. What you've lost is 8 BIP outs replaced by 8 Ks -- the Ks are even more boring and time-consuming but I don't know why people are so upset about it. (Granted for 2019, it might be 9-10 BIP.) We get to see as many hits, more exciting hits and the cost is more Ks. If you can figure out how to get rid of the Ks without scoring exploding, I'm all ears.

Or to put it another way, the nostalgia for 1980s baseball is just another example of "things were better when I was a kid." Baseball in the 1980s wasn't a super-exciting game. It featured many players, especially SS, who were lousy hitters. You probably could string together more hits but you also were probably less likely to put up crooked numbers. If you were down 4 early, you could practically write off the game (of course you were probably less likely to be down 4 early). The very best offensive teams were exciting especially when they fired on all cylinders but that's true today. Meanwhile the misery of teams that didn't have all that speed or the speedy teams when they weren't firing on all cylinders was quite dreadful.

   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 09:06 PM (#5910754)
Does anyone here still like baseball? It's impossible to pretend that the game hasn't gotten more boring, but still, there's plenty to like.

Do you have to ask? Of course. I just consume it much more through "print" and fantasy/simulation baseball, and less through live viewing.

The sport is as awesome as ever if you don't have to watch the actual games.
   43. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 08:59 AM (#5910797)
Honestly, the pro game has almost always been boring. As Walt pointed out it's just the game as built.
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 09:24 AM (#5910800)
Honestly, the pro game has almost always been boring. As Walt pointed out it's just the game as built.

Find an old game on TV or Youtube, from the 1970s. It's not boring.
   45. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 09:33 AM (#5910802)
Yeah, it is.
   46. TJ Posted: December 24, 2019 at 09:56 AM (#5910805)
Thanks to Walt for his usual informative post. I find his work fascinating and it illustrates why I find the game more boring today. Outs on balls in play are more engaging than strikeouts since the former involves players other than the pitcher and catcher moving around and actually doing something. More singles and less home runs means more base running, more potential outcomes and strategies. Home runs are great, but how many do you need to see in a game before they go from great to boring, too? There was a sense of anticipation when one of the two or perhaps three sluggers in a lineup was coming to the plate and you might see a home run. There was a sense of surprise when one of those weak-hitting SS suddenly hit one out. Both have been lost when everyone in the lineup is swinging for the fences all the time.

As for strikeouts, it was exciting to watch a pitcher like Nolan Ryan or JR Richard blow batters away since you didn’t see that every day. Now it is like every pitcher is Nolan Ryan, and that’s boring, too. That said, I still love watching baseball and always will. If that makes me a goofy baseball slappy, so be it. There are many worse things I could be.
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 09:56 AM (#5910806)
Yeah, it is.

Well, then you don't actually like to watch baseball.

Lots of us used to like to watch baseball when there were 50% more balls-in-play, there was very little time between pitches, and the game took less than 2.5 hours. If we had 70's-80's style baseball, or 1950's, or 1930's, I'd probably watch an extra 50 games.

I like to watch baseball. I don't like to watch standing around, batters who don't want to swing, and pitchers who don't want to let the batters hit the ball.
   48. TJ Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:16 AM (#5910812)
I guess my previous post was the long way of saying that I love watching other sports because of what is happening. I love watching baseball because of what could happen, and any evolution of the game that decreases the possibilities of what could happen detracts from the excitement.

Just my opinion...
   49. SoSH U at work Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5910813)
I couldn't agree more TJ. His post also ignored SB and CS, which were both much higher then than now, and both plays are among the more exciting the sport has to offer.



   50. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:21 AM (#5910814)
It's no surprise that "lot's of us" happened to be young during the 80's and thus found the game more exciting.

Probably on some discord channel are "lot's of us" who found the game more exciting from 1996 to 2005 than now and happened to be young during that period.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:32 AM (#5910815)
It's no surprise that "lot's of us" happened to be young during the 80's and thus found the game more exciting.

Probably on some discord channel are "lot's of us" who found the game more exciting from 1996 to 2005 than now and happened to be young during that period.


That has nothing to do with it. 1996-2005 baseball was more entertaining. Pretty much every era since 1920 (except maybe for a few deadball years in the late 60's) was more entertaining. I never saw 1930s baseball, or 1950s baseball, but I'd sure rather watch it than what we have now.

There is significantly less action in a game then there used to be, it take twice as long between pitches, and the games are 40 minutes longer.

Imagine you took all the movies made, and added a 5 second pause before each actor delivers a line, expanding the average movie from 2:00 to 2:45. That's what's happened to baseball.

   52. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5910818)
I think the game is better and more exciting today than it was when I was young in the 50's and 60's, and for one simple reason: The percentage of extremely talented and athletic players is much higher now than it's ever been. Every team has players of true all-star caliber, and that wasn't true when I was growing up. You see defensive plays routinely made today that couldn't have even been imagined back then by more than a tiny handful of players.

And what would you expect? Just look at the size of the talent pool today compared to what it was when it was limited to the U.S. and a token numbers of players from Latin America. It's bound to be reflected in the overall caliber of play.

OTOH there was one thing that was better about the game of previous decades: There were far more colorful personalities then.

I never saw 1930s baseball, or 1950s baseball, but I'd sure rather watch it than what we have now.

Those decades were great if you were a fan of the Yankees, the Dodgers, and intermittently of the Cardinals. For fans of the 13 other teams, not so much. Most of the pennant races in those decades were decided long before the end of September.
   53. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:37 AM (#5910820)
Baseball was barely watched in the 1930's and it collapsed in the 1950's.

Baseball has always struggled making its game visually appealing.
   54. Hot Wheeling American Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:45 AM (#5910825)
It's no surprise that "lot's of us"

TFW you supposedly quote someone but add a typo
   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5910827)
Those decades were great if you were a fan of the Yankees, the Dodgers, and intermittently of the Cardinals. For fans of the 13 other teams, not so much. Most of the pennant races in those decades were decided long before the end of September.

I'm referring to the style of play. Yes, the competitive balance was lacking.

I think the game is better and more exciting today than it was when I was young in the 50's and 60's, and for one simple reason: The percentage of extremely talented and athletic players is much higher now than it's ever been. Every team has players of true all-star caliber, and that wasn't true when I was growing up. You see defensive plays routinely made today that couldn't have even been imagined back then by more than a tiny handful of players.

Which doesn't matter at all if I can't bear to watch the game. 95%+ of baseball plays are utterly routine. I can't stand an hour of dicking around, and a parade of Ks and routine fly balls, to get to one good play.

Of course if you hadn't seen the modern athletes, you'd never have noticed anything wrong with the old ones.
   56. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5910828)
That would be autoswype.
   57. TJ Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:39 AM (#5910837)
I think the game is better and more exciting today than it was when I was young in the 50's and 60's, and for one simple reason: The percentage of extremely talented and athletic players is much higher now than it's ever been. Every team has players of true all-star caliber, and that wasn't true when I was growing up. You see defensive plays routinely made today that couldn't have even been imagined back then by more than a tiny handful of players.


I agree, St. Nick (and I know I've been naughty this year, but please don't repossess what you brought me last Christmas) that baseball players are more athletic today than ever before (and I won't argue about talented). Players in every sport are. To me, that's even more reason to regret the strategies of baseball today from a pure fan point of view. Imagine what today's baseball athletes could do in a more dynamic baseball atmosphere. I know that today's game has evolved into what it is in pursuit of winning- I get that. I know that it makes intellectual sense to not have Mike Trout trying to steal second base every time he is on first (for both analytic and health reasons, since big guys like Trout tend to break down the more they steal). But as a fan, I would love to see Trout running the bases like a madman. It's just more fun to watch.

I might change my point of view if today's strategies ever help my beloved Detroit Tigers get back to respectability...
   58. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 24, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5910851)
Nobody has yet used the term "launch angle." I wonder how much that is intertwined with the parade of 100 mph relievers. If you can't expect to string together three singles to score a run, you ought to aim for the seats.

I remember watching a game a couple years ago where the Dodgers hit something like eight solo homers, and it just got laughable. There was nothing impressive or dramatic about it - it was just, oh there goes another one.

   59. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 24, 2019 at 12:58 PM (#5910853)
TJ,

Okay, I won't repossess your haul if you'll grant me my own fantasy ideal of what I'd want baseball to be like. I'd be very surprised shocked if anyone agrees with all of them.

Nine reforms for nine innings:

1. When it comes to marketing the game, every owner should model himself (or herself) after Bill Veeck, who was far and away the most fan-centric magnate the baseball world has ever seen. And put a reincarnation of Joe Engel ("The Barnum of the Bushes") in charge of all minor league promotions.

2. Keep today's supremely talented players, but restore the pace of the game to a less tedious level. Enforce the pitch clock strictly, install robo-umps for balls and strikes but do away with all other forms of replay, and keep the limit on mound visits.

3. De-juice the ball ever so slightly, and lobotomize every GM, coach, manager and player who even begins to think about launch angles with a count of two strikes.

4. Bring back general admission seats for the last 10 rows of both the lower and upper decks from foul pole to foul pole, with a maximum price of $15.00, and no advanced sales.

5. Do away with gouging, AKA "dynamic pricing" for "premium" games.

6. Teach the art of bunting, but never bunt unless there are no outs, runners on first and second or first alone, and it's the 7th inning or later with a weak hitter up and the tying or winning/go-ahead run is on base. Beyond the specific situation, nothing is more cringeworthy than calling a bunt with a player at the plate who looks like a deer in the headlights.

7. If teams want to "honor the military", let any current military member in uniform get half price tickets, but no more 7th inning stretch GBA interruptions. (Exceptions can be made for Memorial Day and the 4th of July.) And no more diva butchering of the pre-game SSB. Just pick out a good non-vocal recording and let that do the job.

8. And to your point: Yes, encourage the stolen base by all players who've shown they've got the talent to do it successfully 75% or more of the time.

9. Oh, and it should go without saying: No. Artificial. Turf. Ever. As Dick Allen said, if a horse can't eat it, it's got no place on a ballfield.
   60. Lassus Posted: December 24, 2019 at 01:01 PM (#5910854)
I have no idea how a website with a strong emphasis on history could claim baseball is a business "now more than ever before". John Thorn camE up earlier, and I'd eat my hat if he ended up agreeing with THAT.
   61. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 01:19 PM (#5910857)
1. TV is far more important than fans in the stands.

2. They should do everything possible to speed up the game. Nothing wrong with having replay review.

3. Fine with a less lively ball. No reason to not have people trying to figure out how to put the ball over the wall.

4 and 5 are insignificant so have fun.

6. Whatever

7. Should get rid of the SSB and GBA. Completely ok with getting rid of honoring the military.

8. Baseball should do everything in it's power to encourage more action. Smaller gloves, move the mound back, bigger bats, taller walls, so on and so on.

9. Nothing wrong with turf other than it might be hazardous to your health
   62. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 24, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5910858)
And put a reincarnation of Joe Engel ("The Barnum of the Bushes") in charge of all minor league promotions.

that would be Mike Veeck, who has a team here in Charleston and a couple of others
   63. winnipegwhip Posted: December 24, 2019 at 01:33 PM (#5910859)
Baseball was barely watched in the 1930's and it collapsed in the 1950's.


How do you quantify that?
   64. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 02:49 PM (#5910870)
Attendance and contraction.
   65. TJ Posted: December 24, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5910871)
St. Nick, I would gladly let you take back my presents from the last nine years if we could get all nine of your suggestions put in...
   66. winnipegwhip Posted: December 24, 2019 at 05:23 PM (#5910887)
So you use attendence when people had less disposable income in the Great Depression? And at a time when there was oversaturation of product in 11 cities?
   67. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5910889)
So in other words there are no set of facts that you can't ignore.
   68. PreservedFish Posted: December 24, 2019 at 11:24 PM (#5910900)
I have no idea how a website with a strong emphasis on history could claim baseball is a business "now more than ever before".


I think it's fair to say that the talent is managed in a more businessy way than ever before.
   69. McCoy Posted: December 25, 2019 at 08:02 AM (#5910908)
In a modern "efficiency" way sure but in the old days they were treated like cattle.
   70. Booey Posted: December 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM (#5910951)
The sport is as awesome as ever if you don't have to watch the actual games.


I actually disagree with this. I never watched many games to begin with, either in TV or in person (never lived in an MLB city, so I've attended just 3 MLB games in my life), therefore the pace of play doesn't affect me as much as it does with some other fans. I'm a numbers guy; I've always loved baseball because of the stats, the history, the record chases. And the current homogenization of offenses and pitching staffs is ruining that for me. I loved how in the past stars would put up the same value in completely different ways; guys like Gwynn and Ichiro could be just as good as the best TTO sluggers like McGwire and Thome despite single digit HR's because they'd hit .350 every year. Other players like Rickey and Raines could put up the same value (or more, in Rickey's case) by getting on base all the time and then stealing bases with a great percentage. But now no one cares about batting average or stolen bases anymore. Everyone tries (usually unsuccessfully) to be McGwire or Thome. Everyone's numbers look pretty much the same.

There aren't many standout individual seasons anymore. No one's hit .350 in 9 years, almost double the previous longest streak without a .350 season (5 years from 1962-1966). Every other decade saw at least a few major single season or career records broken, but current trends make almost all individual records unreachable. We have more homers than ever, but that's because everyone hits 25, not because the top guys are challenging the single season record like McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds did. That was at least exciting. Strikeouts are at an all time high, but individual pitchers don't throw enough innings anymore to challenge any major records (K's per 9 is NOT a major record). There's fewer .300 seasons. Fewer 20 game winners. A 300 game winner MIGHT happen again...or it might not. .400 hitters have obviously been extinct for a long time, but at least we'd get the occasional run at it...Williams in 1957...Carew in 1977...Brett in 1980...Gywnn in 1994.

Look at someone like Jose Altuve; he used to be a breath of fresh air, a throwback with limited power but who stole bases and hit for a high average. But now he's sacrificed his speed and some of his average to hit more dingers, so his numbers look...well, like everyone else's. He went from Tony Gwynn in 2014 (.341 with 7 HR and 56 SB) to Eddie Murray in 2019 (.298 with 31 HR and 6 SB). Alex Bregman is another; he's probably the best 3B in the game, but is he a true 40 HR hitter? Years ago he probably puts up the same value but with George Brett numbers (.320 with 25 HR) rather than the Eddie Mathews numbers (.296 with 41 HR) he actually had.

Analytics have proven that there's one single best way to produce maximum value, so that's what everyone is doing. And it shows in the monotonous stat lines.
   71. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 25, 2019 at 10:09 PM (#5910968)
Look at someone like Jose Altuve; he used to be a breath of fresh air, a throwback with limited power but who stole bases and hit for a high average. But now he's sacrificed his speed and some of his average to hit more dingers, so his numbers look...well, like everyone else's. He went from Tony Gwynn in 2014 (.341 with 7 HR and 56 SB) to Eddie Murray in 2019 (.298 with 31 HR and 6 SB). Alex Bregman is another; he's probably the best 3B in the game, but is he a true 40 HR hitter? Years ago he probably puts up the same value but with George Brett numbers (.320 with 25 HR) rather than the Eddie Mathews numbers (.296 with 41 HR) he actually had.

Well, in defense of the Tiny Terror Tot (Full disclosure: He's my favorite current non-Yankee player), a lot of that .298 BA was the result of injuries that slowed him down. For the last 3 months of the season he hit .325 with a .978 OPS, and in the postseason it was .329 and .971.
   72. Booey Posted: December 25, 2019 at 10:15 PM (#5910970)
#71 - I hope so. Altuve is one of my favorite players too, but I'll like him a lot more going forward if he goes back to being a .330 hitter with 20 homers rather than if <.300 with 30+ homers is his new norm.
   73. McCoy Posted: December 26, 2019 at 07:19 AM (#5910980)
Yeah, you don't sacrifice speed for power in most cases. You lose speed because of age and injuries.

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