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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Why Are MLB’s Base Hits Disappearing?

In those 25 full seasons since the strike, MLB’s BABIP never dipped below .283 in any stretch of 18 game days. Not since September 1991 has MLB’s BABIP been as low as .276 over any equivalent span. Granted, this latest stretch of 18 game days has yielded fewer plate appearances and batted balls than the average stretch of 18 game days, both because of COVID-caused cancellations and because of the record strikeout rate. Still, this stubbornly low BABIP has persisted over more than 16,000 plate appearances and more than 10,000 batted balls, so it’s probably not purely a fluke. To make matters more perplexing, one might have expected that the universal DH would buoy BABIP in light of the ineptitude of pitcher hitters, although the NL and AL have boasted identical BABIPs dating back to 2002. Plus, the warm months of July and August are typically the peak period for BABIP, so any weather or temperature effect should be acting in the opposite direction of this downturn.

Relative to last season, BABIP is down by between 17 and 23 points on ground balls, fly balls, and line drives. It’s down for left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters, albeit more for the former. It’s down in every inning, although the dips in the first two innings have been particularly pronounced. Pick a split or a circumstance, and hitters are having a harder time getting hits, which has flummoxed front offices. Another team analyst notes, “The most likely explanation is that it has to do with the shortened season, or the fans being gone. Something about this whole COVID situation.” But nobody seems to have narrowed things down. “Haven’t been able to come up with any single great explanation,” an R&D director says. “Might be a confluence of a number of things. But it’s super weird.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:18 AM | 88 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: babip

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   1. Rally Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:32 AM (#5969204)
Fans being gone means players chasing foul balls don’t have to battle for the out. Probably accounts for 1 or 2 lost hits.

Is the warm weather traditionally the cause of increased offense in August? Or tired pitchers? Usually pitchers are a bit worn down at this point but have to muddle through. Then they get a break with expanded September rosters. This year the pitchers are fresh.
   2. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:35 AM (#5969206)

Fans being gone means players chasing foul balls don’t have to battle for the out. Probably accounts for 1 or 2 lost hits


I doubt it causes that much. My recollection of a study from many years ago is that a place like Oakland with HUGE foul territory was good for about 2 outs every 3 games compared to a place like Fenway. Also the netting still seems to be up in the games I watch so players can't jump into the stands as readily.

It's an interesting question though. It's one of the things I've been curious about with the absence of fans. There are probably a bunchof little impacts and this would be one worth looking at.
   3. BDC Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:35 AM (#5969207)
Also no fans around to yell "got it" and decoy fielders off the play.

Nah, I guess not. Swinging for the fences in every PA, and better defensive positioning, seem among likely factors.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:37 AM (#5969208)
Because the bases are too damn far apart.

   5. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:38 AM (#5969210)
Charlie Blackmon's BABIP this season is .534, so don't blame him.
   6. Rally Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:05 AM (#5969221)
Jose, my guess is one or 2 lost hits, total, across all teams this year. So if that’s too high, can’t by high by much.

To qualify, it has to be a foul hit right at the edge of the stands, where a fan might impede a fielder from catching it. And if you have such a play, then the batter has to get a hit afterwards. I don’t think it can account for much at all, but maybe an isolated play or 2.
   7. Rally Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:10 AM (#5969225)
Blackmon needs to hit about .360 rest of the way to finish at .400
   8. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:11 AM (#5969227)
"Dear Mr. President. There are too many fielders. Please eliminate one.

P.S. I am not a crackpot."
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:12 AM (#5969228)
Is it possible that without fans the hitters are looking at a different back ground and that is causing a few more weaker contacts? Bill James once noted that the SHea stadium was a pro pitcher park, at least in terms of ba, due to the back drop that the hitters faced.

Q2: What are the standards going to be for league leaders? In particular for batting crown. HOw many AB do you need to qualify? Is it simply the pro rata version of what is already the rule? So like what 3.1 x 60 ab?
   10. Dolf Lucky Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:20 AM (#5969233)
As the Sheehan tweet notes, baseball has suffered through offensive droughts before. So this isn't necessarily a "problem". And just two days after his tweet, the composite MLB batting average is up to .235, so we may need to give things a bit of space to balance out.

That said, the real problem (as I see it) is that there's almost no chance that any solutions implemented from the current leadership will move the needle in the desired direction. In response to lower offense levels, Manfred will require that hitters use shorter bats or something.
   11. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:26 AM (#5969234)
Mike Trout had a foul out that most likely would have just been a foul ball last night. The ball was caught at the waist over the line of the fence at Angel Stadium. Most fans would have been reaching up for that ball and would have kept the right fielder from getting it.

To the larger point, I'm not smart enough to figure out why, but I know I don't like it. My hope is that it's so bad that it does lead to some rule changes. I can handle it over a 60-game schedule if it means future seasons will be better baseball.
   12. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:39 AM (#5969237)
Mike Trout had a foul out that most likely would have just been a foul ball last night. The ball was caught at the waist over the line of the fence at Angel Stadium. Most fans would have been reaching up for that ball and would have kept the right fielder from getting it.


Ok, but it's not like if the fielder can't make the play, it's a hit. There's still a greater than 50% chance the batter eventually makes an out. On average, given 3 fouls that are turned into outs that wouldn't have been before, 2 would have been eventually anyway. Let's say there have been 2 of those plays per team so far. 60 total. Add 20 hits. MLB BA rises from .235 to .236. Double that number to 4 per team, an extra 40 hits. BA rises another point. It's a tiny effect.
   13. Itchy Row Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5969238)
Infield "Heeeeeeey batter- SWING!" chatter is more effective without crowd noise.
   14. . Posted: August 12, 2020 at 11:07 AM (#5969244)
Seemingly no end in sight to the massive aesthetic decay in a once-great and still potentially great sport. And we still haven't yet hit equilibrium in the decline of the starting pitcher and the revolution in pitcher usage.

The effort to paper over all this by denominating things like bat flips "fun" and encouraging the generational internet yabfests about "fun" is really nothing short of pathetic.

Beyond the perennial things that please the eye and ear -- the uniforms, the wide swaths of emerald, the (*) crack of the bat, the accomplished and enthusiastic voices on the radio -- there's just nothing there. Oafball presided over by fussy Ivy League numbers crunching and bread and circuses for the "younger demographic" is among the worst marketing developments in the history of American business.(**) Makes New Coke look like Newtonian genius.

(*) Now far too infrequent.

(**) The usual presumptive caveat that this has nothing to do with age or the "good old days" restated. Each of the other three major US team sports are at or at worst barely down from their aesthetic peaks. This is a purely baseball problem.
   15. . Posted: August 12, 2020 at 11:15 AM (#5969247)
The ridiculous shifts are the functional equivalent of all the NFL teams being able to perfectly predict the offenses' calls pre-snap. No one with a functioning brain would want to see that, and there most certainly wouldn't be a big, yabby faction of NFL fans cooing and swooning over the "strategy" involved. The inability to perfectly advance plan a baseball offense is a feature, not a bug and the current ability to so advance plan is a termite attack wrapped in a hornet's nest surrounded by a black widow spider army.

This is one of those things that will become crystal clear in time and this era and all the nonsense about it will come to seem ridiculous.
   16. . Posted: August 12, 2020 at 11:27 AM (#5969250)
"Dear Mr. President. There are too many fielders. Please eliminate one.


Nothing crackpot about this in the least; indeed, it's something that should be done. Not all the time, but maybe something like give the manager of the offense something like three chances per game to make the defense defend with one fewer player. (*) That would improve the game immensely and would be actual strategy, not the fake "strategy" of the data-hacked shifts.

First mentioned this one maybe three years ago and it's an even better idea now. Should happen yesterday.

(*) Details can of course be tweaked. Maybe even let the three be saved, so that there's the potential to hit against six in massive-leverage ABs.
   17. giannis Posted: August 12, 2020 at 11:54 AM (#5969254)
1. More pitchers are cheating by putting more foreign substances on the ball.
2. Every pitcher is throwing his nastiest pitches all the time, since there's no longer any need to try to pitch deep into a game. (Relievers are pitching almost 50% of the innings this year.)

Batters seeing nothing but ridiculous wiffle ball pitches every time up is going to lead to a ton of infield pop-ups and soft grounders.
   18. Rally Posted: August 12, 2020 at 12:16 PM (#5969256)
Shifts became commonplace a few years ago, but BABIP barely changed at all. I don’t understand why shifts would suddenly become more effective.
   19. SandyRiver Posted: August 12, 2020 at 12:31 PM (#5969259)
How much did batters face "real" pitching in the month before the 2020 season opened? How does that compare to the amount gained during spring training, and can any difference be related to the low BABIP? Maybe the pitchers were ahead of the batters for a few weeks?
   20. Bug Selig Posted: August 12, 2020 at 12:54 PM (#5969263)
If my enjoyment of the game depended on where the 3B stood for a LHB, I probably wouldn't watch anyway.
   21. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:02 PM (#5969264)
The ridiculous shifts are the functional equivalent of all the NFL teams being able to perfectly predict the offenses' calls pre-snap.
Thats incorrect. If a football team overplays the right side of its defensive line, the other team may attempt to defeat that by running the ball to the defense’s left side. It’s the same in baseball - if a team positions 3 (or 4!) infielders on the right side of the infield, the opposing hitter is free to attempt to exploit that defense by hitting to the left side more often.
   22. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:04 PM (#5969266)
Jose, my guess is one or 2 lost hits, total, across all teams this year. So if that’s too high, can’t by high by much.


Ah, I thought you meant 1-2 hits per game. Yeah I'd agree with you then.
   23. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:08 PM (#5969267)
Shifts became commonplace a few years ago, but BABIP barely changed at all. I don’t understand why shifts would suddenly become more effective.


This. It's strikeouts, it's strikeouts, it's strikeouts.
   24. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:19 PM (#5969272)
Fans being gone means players chasing foul balls don’t have to battle for the out.
Fielders not scoping out female fans may make them more focused on their defensive responsibilities. That could account for almost all the 2020 hitting decline.
   25. Lassus Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:28 PM (#5969274)
This is one of those things that will become crystal clear in time

/Charlie Day GIF
   26. puck Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:31 PM (#5969276)
This. It's strikeouts, it's strikeouts, it's strikeouts.

But not this year. The NL's DH's must just be popping the ball up all over the place.

year  SO%   BABIP
2020  23.4  .280
2019  23.0  .298
2018  22.3  .296 
   27. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:37 PM (#5969278)
It's strikeouts, it's strikeouts, it's strikeouts.


percentage of PAs that resulted in K's
2020 23.4
2019 22.9
2018 22.2
2017 21.6
2016 21.1
2015 20.3
2014 20.3
2012 19.8
2010 18.4

   28. Rally Posted: August 12, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5969287)
I still remember the days when, among people interested in player development, some would argue that a player who strikes out in a quarter of his AB is just too much. The player either won't develop, or if he's having some success, he won't be able to sustain it.

Now that's just MLB average.

Strikeouts are the main reason batting averages have fallen, but they have nothing to do with BABIP. BABIP was remarkably constant for a while. Between .293 and .302 every year from 1993 to 2019. There was a big jump forward in 1993.

Last year it was lower than the .280 of 2020 was 1981 - another shortened season, though the mere season length is not it, we were at .300 in 1994.
   29. Rally Posted: August 12, 2020 at 02:44 PM (#5969288)
Another interesting development, 37.24 PA per game, down from 38.39 last year. That will of course fluctuate with run scoring level, but I assume the big cause of that drop is extra inning games less likely to last, and the 7 inning double headers, which we'll see a lot more of.
   30. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 12, 2020 at 03:43 PM (#5969298)
28 - FWIW in 1995 April had the lowest BABIP by month of the season at .291 (.298-.296-.299-.301-.299 the rest of the way). Small sample size and that's close enough to be just a margin of error type thing but of course that was a year with an interrupted and shortened spring training. 1981 didn't have a big split; .280 BABIP pre-strike, .278 post-strike. I looked at 1972 and 1990 and same thing, a bit lower in April but not enough to be really meaningful (both years had stoppages in the spring as I recall).
   31. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2020 at 05:53 PM (#5969327)
#11: You don't like what? This is the first year there's been a drop in BABIP.

#23: Similar thing. K-rate has had no effect on BABIP. And on-contact SLG has been going up (but is down to 2018 levels so far this year).

#3: Swinging for the fences in every PA, and better defensive positioning, seem among likely factors.

Nope, no real change in BABIP due to either prior to this year. (Or arguably they have negatively affected BABIP but other factors have positively affected it and they've balanced.)

Ks of course do decrease BA but even BA hasn't bounced around all that much prior to this year. In 2010, BA was 257; in 2017 it was 255. It was terrible in 2018 at 248 then back to 252. In that time, K% has gone from 18.5 to 23.0 so it hasn't had that big of an effect -- because hitters are _hitting_ the ball better than ever (with a big jump in the ones going over the fence that don't contribute to BABIP).

If we compare 2019 to 2012, what we see is a reduction of just 515 hits -- that's across the entire league for the entire season so 17 hits per team of about 1 less hit every 9 games. I can see why you guys are so distressed by the lack of hits. What we did see was a "massive" drop of over 2600 singles (also somewhat fewer doubles and triples) and 2100+ more HR. If a single is more exciting than an HR, I missed the memo. (I will grant, a BIP is more exciting than Javy flailing at a pitch a foot outside ... and nobody is a more entertaining flailer than Javy.)

This year so far has been radically different in BA and BABIP -- 235 BA, 280 BABIP -- but ISO, HR/FB are the same and, according to fangraphs, soft-hit% is down and hard-hit% is way up.
   32. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 06:33 PM (#5969332)
If a single is more exciting than an HR, I missed the memo.


It's gotten to the point where I'd rather see a single than a HR. I would be okay with HRs staying the same if we replaced a bunch of Ks with singles and outs on balls in play.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2020 at 07:29 PM (#5969339)
By the way, starter/reliever usage doesn't seem to matter either for BABIP. BABIP is pretty much the same across roles from 2010-19 and, in 2020, starters have a much lower BABIP than relievers. Granted, 2020 has also seen a boom in the use of openers so some of the starter are relievers. Back in 2010, relievers did have a substantially higher K-rate (2.7% higher) but that gap has narrowed a good bit to 1.6% last year but back to 2% so far this year.

But I agree, I think we'd all love to find some magic bullet to decrease Ks without either a massive change in scoring. I'm not sure there's anything we can do to pitchers that will reduce their ability to get a K -- maybe enforcing the pitch clock would help. As it stands, ideas to disincentivize TTO for batters are mainly punitive in nature (deader ball, thicker bat handles) that are meant to encourage them to make weak contact -- I'm far from convinced those would reduce Ks (especially reduce them enough to matter) and they'd kill scoring and we end up with the worst of both worlds.

SOSH's idea of moving thee bases closer and (his?) the idea of smaller gloves would presumably lead to a few more GB singles. Making a rule against shifts might help a little -- possibly some of the shift towards TTO by batters is counteracting the shift by not hitting the ball on the ground.

A reminder of a general trend. Ks started going way up around 93-94 -- the start of sillyball. Given scoring went through the roof too, this presumably was more a change in general batter strategy than pitching strategy. From the peak of sillyball somewhere around 2000, Ks kept going up while scoring kept going down. On-contact production by batters was about the same so that seems more likely to be a change in pitching. This "peaked" in 2014 and the first half of 2015 when on-contact production actually dropped while Ks went up. Then magically in mid-2015, the ball started flying out of the park which I suppose possibly could have been a sudden league-wide change in batter strategy but more likley was the introducion of a superball. On-contact production went up for the first time in about 20 years -- and naturally the pitcher response to that is try even harder to avoid contact. And here we are.

So you have to both substantially reduce on-contact production by batters and prevent pitchers from avoiding contact.

By the way, in the sainted 1980s, BA varied from 254 to 265, looks like it averaged about 259. For the 2010s, it was about 254. Remember, that's 5 fewer hits per 1000 AB. A team gets to 1000 AB somewhere around 28 games so one fewer team hit every 5-6 games. That's not what's bothering you.
   34. . Posted: August 12, 2020 at 07:51 PM (#5969342)
If a single is more exciting than an HR, I missed the memo.


An HR hit in the context of pre-Oafball norms was more exciting than a single, typically, because among other reasons it didn't come with massive negative externalities attached. Even on its merits, no, it really isn't that exciting to see an HR when every single swing and effort in every single AB is aimed at that end.

Like a lot of things in culture and life, when people are trying too hard the end at which they're aiming their too-hard trying loses a lot of its panache. Particularly when so much of the too-hard effort results in pure, abject, flailing bumbling and stumbling incompetence. So it is with the Oafball homerun.
   35. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:49 PM (#5969356)
Whenever something weird happens in baseball, my default assumption is that it's just random noise and it'll work out in the end. I admit that I'm bad at updating and I keep this going longer than I should. But we're not very far into this "season", isn't the most likely explanation of what's going on is that weird #### happens over short stretches of baseball games?
   36. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 12, 2020 at 11:22 PM (#5969363)
The problem is that no aesthetically-pleasing version of the game is being played. There are few hits, but still more runs than the historical average, so even the huge amount of strikeouts isn't accompanied by dominating pitching performances except for a couple of innings at a time. The most appealing, popular kinds of players historically have been "complete" hitters and starting pitchers who rack up innings. A team might win a lot of games with a lineup of .230 hitters with .320 OBPs and 35 home runs each, backed by a pitching staff of guys who each throw 110 innings with a 4.50 era and 10 strikeouts per 9, but nobody's going to get excited.
   37. BDC Posted: August 13, 2020 at 08:57 AM (#5969385)
Nope, no real change in BABIP due to either prior to this year

No, I wasn't really talking about BABIP in a few games this year, which I agree is just noise, at least that's the safest assumption. Just about the trend over the past 25 years or so, to the point where strikeouts consistently outnumber hits anymore.

   38. pthomas Posted: August 13, 2020 at 02:58 PM (#5969447)
Hitting into the shift. The place where BABIP goes to die.
   39. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 14, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5969605)

But I agree, I think we'd all love to find some magic bullet to decrease Ks without either a massive change in scoring. I'm not sure there's anything we can do to pitchers...


Walt, why do you act like this is some sort of mystery? THere's two obvious methods that are time tested and should directly lead to desired results without wacky knock on effects. Lower the Mound and Deaden the Ball. These are both obvious and have been done in the past.

We had this discussion a while back and you were insisting that changes to the ball were made only once in history. But aside from 1920, we have a dead ball during WW II due to chemicals needed for the war effortd, then they put the ingredients back after the war; then there was the 1960s, and whatever happened in 2015. That's at the minimum, there's also periods that are arguable.

BUt otherwise some very interesting analysis as usual.
   40. Rally Posted: August 19, 2020 at 10:04 PM (#5970761)
Something I didn't consider looking at this last week.

BABIP on ground balls this year is .220, down from .238 last year. I didn't check on the number of infield hits to hits that make it to OF, but maybe the hitters had a tough time staying in shape during the lockdown and aren't running as well?

Looking at Statcast sprint speed and it is definitely down from last year. It's possible that this is due to some change in how they measure it, but if the methods are consistent, then last year average sprint speed was 27.3, this year 26.6 (looking only at players who played in both 2019 and 2020).

Some of that is players getting slower as they age, but as an average effect I'd expect something like 0.2, not 0.7. A 0.7 average loss of speed can't happen, otherwise 20 year old Rickey at 30.0 is 23.0 after a decade, and 16.0 after 20. That would make Rickey slower than Pujols after 20 years, (and about as slow after only 10) and we know that's not normal.

Of the 284 players on the list, only 36 were faster in 2020 than 2019.

Led by Brett Phillips (28.9 from 28.0) and Matt Kemp (still slow at 25.9, but up from 25.0 last season).

Pujols is slower than ever, down to 21.4 (22.5 last year).

The guys who lost the most speed are:

Jarrod Dyson -2.9
Mitch Moreland -2.7
Marwin Gonzalez -2.5
Austin Meadows -2.3
Myles Straw -2.1

Straw, at 28.0, is still above average, he had a lot of speed to lose. Marwin and Mitch were slow guys who got slower. Meadows and especially Dyson were above average last season, and now below average. Dyson down to 25.5, you know who else runs at 25.5? Gary Sanchez. Dyson is 36, maybe he just got old real fast, or else is dealing with an injury.
   41. TJ Posted: August 19, 2020 at 11:30 PM (#5970788)
If a single is more exciting than an HR, I missed the memo.


I agree that a home run is more exciting than a single. I would argue that three singles in an inning are more exciting than one home run.
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: August 20, 2020 at 12:22 AM (#5970796)
SOSH's idea of moving thee bases closer and (his?) the idea of smaller gloves would presumably lead to a few more GB singles.


It wouldn't just increase GB singles. It would also increase line drive singles and some doubles (perhaps even a stray triple).

If the basepath distance was decreased (say, starting at 87 feet), infielders would have no choice but to play closer, otherwise they'd yield too many IF hits. This will make it easier for hard-hit balls to get through, over or in between the IF and OF, and a few balls down the line would turn into extra base hits.

Additionally, it would make the stolen base easier (since baserunners would benefit much more from the reduced distance than catchers would).

As you note, the key to any solution for the K problem isn't just reducing homers or making it harder to hit, but incentivizing contact vs. failure to put the ball in play. Reducing the distance would do that, as would the smaller gloves (though that wasn't my idea). If there are other ways that are less intrusive or aesthetically displeasing than reducing the distance, I'm game. I just haven't heard of any.

But you would want to do these in conjunction with some deeper fences, or maybe a deader ball, to keep run-scoring the same, only with a better balance than what we have now.
   43. Khrushin it bro Posted: August 20, 2020 at 01:44 PM (#5970886)
Lower the mound? Smaller gloves? Shorter basepaths? If you want to watch this new sport try here.

EDIT: Less pitcher arm injuries too!
   44. puck Posted: August 20, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5970896)
I thought that was going to be a link to cricket.
   45. Khrushin it bro Posted: August 20, 2020 at 02:36 PM (#5970902)
Cricket works too but the game length is typically longer than baseball.
   46. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 20, 2020 at 05:33 PM (#5970964)
I agree that a home run is more exciting than a single. I would argue that three singles in an inning are more exciting than one home run.

STRONGLY concur. Back when I used to keep track of the most exciting games of the year (measured by total change in win expectancy over the course of the game), the games that scored the highest were generally close games that feature a lot of at bats with runners in scoring position.

Home runs are exciting in their own way, but it's a momentary high. A sustained rally builds tension and holds the viewer's focus over a longer period.

For the sake of comparison, in 1999 (not exactly a year that was short of home runs), there were 189692 plate appearances in MLB, and 52528 PA with runners in scoring position (27.7%). In 2019, there were 186517 PA, and 45494 RISP PA (24.4%). That's a 12% decline in percentage of plate appearances with RISP.

Well, that's 1999; it was a high-scoring year. How about a lower-scoring season? In 1972, which was low-scoring enough that the AL implemented the DH the next year, there were 139968 PA in baseball, 34620 with runners in scoring position. That's 24.7% - still more than in 2019 despite the MLB scoring average being 1.14 R/G lower (3.69 to 4.83).

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on what to enjoy about baseball, of course. But I really miss rallies.
   47. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 20, 2020 at 06:23 PM (#5970983)
Cricket works too but the game length is typically* longer than baseball.


* Red Sox/Yankees games notwithstanding
   48. cookiedabookie Posted: August 20, 2020 at 06:36 PM (#5970988)
You could shrink the strike zone to deal with the strikeouts, but that's going to increase walks, and not necessarily with an increase in balls in play. I guess you could shorten the distance between bases, which teams could exploit with speed and contact, but in the era of launch angle, I don't think that will. Probably the best way to deal with this is set up defensive zones for players to start each pitch in. That gets rid of shifts, and puts baseball closer to traditional play than any of the other options mentioned. I probably would combine that with lowering the mound. And get rid of pickoff throws - that will speed up the game and incentivize speed and contact from hitters.
   49. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 20, 2020 at 09:39 PM (#5971035)
I would be curious to learn more about how the distribution of this record number of strikeouts is being seen among batters:

Are we finding that pretty much all players are generally striking out more than they used to?

Or, are we finding that certain types of batters are seeing their strikeout percentages going up a lot more than others? For example, if we found that low-power, high-speed hitters were disproprtionately impacted by an extra few MPHs on pitches or something (like, they can't use their bat control skills the way they used to), then that would probably have a disproportionately high impact on lower BABIP.

For those that say players should just react to defensive shifts by adjusting where they hit the ball are generally overestimating the level of control hitters have to hit pitched balls with that level of precision. Also, if you combine improved defensive shifts with more difficult pitches to hit, then the combination could mean less bat control than ever, combined with sophisticated ability to know where batted balls are likely to be hit.
   50. Baldrick Posted: August 20, 2020 at 10:15 PM (#5971042)
Here is my super-ridiculous and terrible idea that I actually think would work: balls which land in the first 10 feet beyond the outfield wall are outs, not home runs.
   51. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 20, 2020 at 11:43 PM (#5971059)
I've proposed that in the past, also half-jokingly. If what we want is more singles, then even making them singles might work, although I suppose part of the reason to make them outs would be to reduce the incentive for the focus on upper-cut swings that leads to all the striking out.
   52. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2020 at 04:07 AM (#5971082)


BABIP on ground balls this year is .220, down from .238 last year. I didn't check on the number of infield hits to hits that make it to OF, but maybe the hitters had a tough time staying in shape during the lockdown and aren't running as well?

Looking at Statcast sprint speed and it is definitely down from last year.


This is definitely creative thinking and kudos for that. BUt if this was really thing why wouldnt runners be out of shape every season? Would statcast speed be lower in say April then July in a normal season? I would be suprised. THe idea probably deserves some more elaboration before I can buy into it.


As you note, the key to any solution for the K problem isn't just reducing homers or making it harder to hit, but incentivizing contact vs. failure to put the ball in play. Reducing the distance would do that, as would the smaller gloves (though that wasn't my idea). If there are other ways that are less intrusive or aesthetically displeasing than reducing the distance, I'm game. I just haven't heard of any.


why do you have to keep resorting to this cockamamie ideas? Why wouldnt LOWErING THE MOUND and DEADENING the BALL have the desired effect?

I dont get it. YOu act like you've never heard of this idea. Why be so obtuse?
   53. Rally Posted: August 21, 2020 at 08:07 AM (#5971085)
This is definitely creative thinking and kudos for that. BUt if this was really thing why wouldnt runners be out of shape every season? Would statcast speed be lower in say April then July in a normal season? I would be suprised. THe idea probably deserves some more elaboration before I can buy into it.


Maybe the weirdness of the situation contributed? They are used to staying in shape through the winter, getting into playing form in spring. This year after spring training was shut down they didn't even know if there would be a season for a while. Maybe the shutdown kept players from going to gyms and training facilities, though I assume most of them have home gyms and they can always go run with their dogs.

That's just a wild guess as to the why, doesn't matter if you think it's plausible or not. What really matters is the what. The data are very clear, sprint speed is down substantially from what it was last season. Whether we have an explanation or not, the what remains.

Here is my super-ridiculous and terrible idea that I actually think would work: balls which land in the first 10 feet beyond the outfield wall are outs, not home runs.


In some softball leagues they limit homers. Your team gets to hit one per game, anything over the wall after that is an out. "Molitor leads off first, Henderson leads off second. The pitch to Carter. Hit to deep left field, way back, and gone! Williams did his job, getting Carter to fly out to the left field bleachers. Two down, if he can get Alfredo Griffin we're going to game 7."
   54. SoSH U at work Posted: August 21, 2020 at 08:33 AM (#5971087)
why do you have to keep resorting to this cockamamie ideas? Why wouldnt LOWErING THE MOUND and DEADENING the BALL have the desired effect?


Because I don't believe, as many of you do, that strikeouts are entirely, or even primarily, on the pitcher. My belief is that the dramatic increase in strikeouts is due to batters of all types adopting an approach that prioritizes hard contact on every swing and is indifferent to swinging and missing.

In my view, which I've articulated before, while lowering the mound would certainly make it harder on pitchers, it wouldn't necessarily incentivize contact over putting the ball in play. Deadening the ball would be even less effective (by itself, or in conjunction with lowering the mound). Hitters would still be incentivized to swing as hard as they could, even if that resulted in more doubles than homers.

To truly combat the strikeout spike issue, you have to make putting the ball in play more valuable relative to swinging and missing than it is in today's game, to make strikeouts more punitive. My idea does that (as does reducing glove sizes and expanding fair territory, which I also support). I also think you would need to do it in conjunction with some other idea to reduce offenses (deadening the ball might be the necessary offset here, though I'd like to see larger outfield walls in the next round of new ballparking).

I've said, on numerous occasions, I'm more than open to trying other solutions before the rather draconian measure of reducing the distance between the bases. I don't think those others solutions will do the job, because none of them address what is, in my opinion, the core problem - offensive teams' understanding that the benefits that come with prioritizing hard contact (which now includes the launch angle approach to the swing) vastly outweigh the benefits of putting the ball in play. To fix the problem, you have to make putting the ball in play more beneficial.
   55. . Posted: August 21, 2020 at 01:20 PM (#5971174)
Because I don't believe, as many of you do, that strikeouts are entirely, or even primarily, on the pitcher. My belief is that the dramatic increase in strikeouts is due to batters of all types adopting an approach that prioritizes hard contact on every swing and is indifferent to swinging and missing.


Entirely correct.

To truly combat the strikeout spike issue, you have to make putting the ball in play more valuable relative to swinging and missing than it is in today's game, to make strikeouts more punitive.


Also entirely correct. Here's the solution:

(1) Fielders all start in small self-defined circles.
(2) Three to five times per game, the manager of the team at bat can choose to remove one of the defense's fielders. Think through whether the "removal" chances can be bunched; i.e., do we allow the manager to remove three fielders on a single at bat. Fielders can position themselves anywhere on a "removed" at bat.



   56. Rally Posted: August 21, 2020 at 01:53 PM (#5971189)
True the strikeout increase is not only due to pitchers, but they are probably 50% of the reason.

1. Pitchers throw a lot harder than they did 13 years ago, when we first had consistent and complete velocity data.
2. No longer do starters try pitching to contact in an effort to conserve their energies and pitch into late innings. Now all pitchers focus on getting as many swings and misses as possible. If that means a starter can’t even go 4 innings, so be it.

Maybe it’s 60-40 batters, maybe 60-40 pitchers. I dont have any way of testing that, so I’ll assume its close to 50/50 unless somebody comes up with a real way to show that the majority of blame belongs on one side.
   57. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2020 at 05:01 PM (#5971274)
I also think you would need to do it in conjunction with some other idea to reduce offenses (deadening the ball might be the necessary offset here, though I'd like to see larger outfield walls in the next round of new ballparking).


OK so you admit that we should decrease the rate of HRs. Which do you think is more realistic: deadening the ball or moving outfield walls? There's really no argument here. Correct? No one's about to move their outfield walls back and even if they did you'd have to accomplish this in 30 ball parks at the same time.

So moving fences back is never gonna happen, and deadening the ball is only realistic and direct method left. Yes?

   58. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2020 at 05:07 PM (#5971276)

Some of that is players getting slower as they age,


HOw is that even possible? Because there were no new guys added to the league and no old guys retired. Or not enuf retired to make a difference.

So the entire league just got older by a year or so?

Otherwise I have no idea what you're talking about here. Isnt the league average age the same? or did the covid thing prevent newer players from making teams?
   59. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2020 at 05:16 PM (#5971277)

Because I don't believe, as many of you do, that strikeouts are entirely, or even primarily, on the pitcher. My belief is that the dramatic increase in strikeouts is due to batters of all types adopting an approach that prioritizes hard contact on every swing and is indifferent to swinging and missing.


The problem with this idea is that it ignores the history of when all this happened.

From 2010 to 2014, the HR rate was less than 1 per game; 0.95. Its quite stable for those seasons with one year at 1.02.

It jumped markedly in 2015 and 2016 and 2017.

Strikeout rates have been increasing for what 15 years? 20 years?

The point is that the trend in high strike outs has been going on for over a decade if not two. The trend in launch angle stuff is much more recent.

How do your reconcile these facts with your theory?

EDIT: KO rates have been steadily increasing since 2006. Every single year has increase since then. Pitchers didnt do that in response to HR rates. In four seasons prior to 2006 the HR rate is 1.06 a game and in four seasons after its 1.03. you can slice the numbers however you wish, but I dont think you're going to find much correlation there.
   60. Rally Posted: August 21, 2020 at 05:17 PM (#5971278)
Im looking at players who played in both 2019 and 2020. Brian McCann retired, so his slow feet are not in the mix. Luis Robert is a 2020 debut, also not considered.

All the rest are one year older than they were in 2019.
   61. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5971284)

If the basepath distance was decreased (say, starting at 87 feet), infielders would have no choice but to play closer, otherwise they'd yield too many IF hits. This will make it easier for hard-hit balls to get through, over or in between the IF and OF, and a few balls down the line would turn into extra base hits.
Additionally, it would make the stolen base easier (since baserunners would benefit much more from the reduced distance than catchers would).


tell me how any of this would be disincentive for pitchers to make strike outs? Your entire scheme of twisting the fundamental layout of the diamond and playing havoc with traditional stat keeping has given no thought to at least half of the dynamic.

BUt I guess that makes sense since your starting point in all this is that it's not on pitchers, all the TTO, launch angle, HR increase is entirely on batters. Or at least some huge proportion of it.

THere's no objective evidence of that at all. Like most things in baseball, like BaBIP or .ba or whatever its a dynamic that's always balanced on a knife edge with both pitcher and batter contributing to this.

It also ignores the trend of the last 15 years, which I mentioned above.

So nothing you are proposing would disincentivize pitchers from getting more KOs. Correct?

I mean , lets say you cut HR rate to where it was in the 2000s or the 1990s, thats fine. And you increase ba to say .270. Right? THose are your goals. THere's still nothing here that would disincentive pitchers to get more KOs.
   62. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2020 at 05:41 PM (#5971285)

Im looking at players who played in both 2019 and 2020. Brian McCann retired, so his slow feet are not in the mix. Luis Robert is a 2020 debut, also not considered.

All the rest are one year older than they were in 2019.


OK Im having a huge problem understanding what you are looking at here. WHen you posted no. 40 you were stating the sprint speed for the league average. ON THE WHOLE.

NOw what are you saying: that you only look at sprint speed of players who stayed in the league and ignore players who entered the league. Well isnt that artificially aging your sample by a year? You seem to acknowledge that in another post when you said if players were losing 0.7 per year then Ricky! would be out of the league in ten years. I get that. BUt why would you measure sprint speed with a artificial criterion like that.

Lets go back: Can you provide the average sprint speed for the league as a whole? for both 2019 and 2020.

Cause I dont think the whole league just got one year older or even a half year older. But maybe??
   63. SoSH U at work Posted: August 21, 2020 at 06:00 PM (#5971293)
The problem with this idea is that it ignores the history of when all this happened.


No, it doesn't.

So moving fences back is never gonna happen, and deadening the ball is only realistic and direct method left. Yes?


By itself, it's only going to decrease offense. So, I agree it makes sense in conjunction with something that incentivizes contact.

How do your reconcile these facts with your theory?


As you note, batter strikeouts have been going up steadily for a long time. I think it's primarily a result of approach. There was a time when batters were encouraged to make contact (it was less than 20 years ago when Jose Hernandez was held out of the final games of the season so he didn't break the single-season K record).

As statistical analysis (which concluded a strikeout is no worse than any other kind of out) became more prevalent in FOs and below, that attitude disappeared. That has influenced approach. Making contact was not prioritized. The launch angle revolution has only amplified that existing trend.

So nothing you are proposing would disincentivize pitchers from getting more KOs. Correct?


You do realize that none of your solutions would do that either, right?

The problem is, it's damn near impossible to disincentivize Ks for pitchers. A swing and a miss is, and will remain, the best kind of result for a hurler. Deaden the ball. Ks are still better than a ball in play. Deeper fences. Ks are still better.

You can make it harder to achieve. But it's really hard to make them less attractive. And, it's my belief, that unless you change the bizarre dynamic where pitchers want Ks and hitters don't mind them, you're going to have an imbalance, which is where we are now.

And since you can't change the incentive structure from the pitching side without getting even gimmickier than simply reducing the distance between the bases, my approach attacks the problem from the offensive side.

I've said repeatedly I'm open to trying less drastic measures first. I just don't think they'll work.

   64. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: August 23, 2020 at 04:18 PM (#5971684)
I know I sound like a broken record, but something needs to be done. You can hear the announcers themselves are getting bored and having difficulty filling up the time between pitches, the long at-bats, and the lack of baserunners, and the lack of steal attempts when there are baserunners.

Here are three things baseball could do:

1) Make rule changes to incentivize pitchers throwing more innings, starters pitching complete games, etc. It's very difficult to throw as hard as pitchers do these days for 7 innings, much less 9. Most of the non-invasive rules changes are roster-based ones. The current rule that pitchers have to throw to 3 batters is a start, but one of the main ways would be a roster penalty - if you don't throw at least 2 innings or have to be taken out in the middle of an inning you are ineligible to pitch for the next 3 games or something. Or something simpler than that - just a maximum of 8 or 9 pitchers on the roster - still wouldn't stop a team from throwing 3 pitchers for 3 innings each (or 9 pitchers for 1 inning each), but it might have some effect.

2) Make rule changes to incentivize pitchers taking less time between pitches. Throwing hard takes effort, and a lot of the increased time between pitchers is pitchers resting before the next pitch (batters are resting too, between max-effort swings). If one can force pitchers somehow to take only 6 seconds instead of 20 or 30 seconds (in the 1970's 6 seconds between pitches wasn't uncommon, just watch one of the many games available on Youtube), then the percentage of max-effort pitches will go down, and you will end up with more pitchers like Zach Davies and fewer like Max Scherzer, as much as I admire the latter.

3) Incentivize rule changes that make base-hits more likely, and steals easier. Smaller infielder gloves, restrictions on positioning. Restrictions on throwing over to first. The wacky rule change I favor trying out somewhere (The Atlantic League? The Arizona Fall League, if that happens?) is to make it illegal for pitchers to field bunts. That would require the infield to play in, and reduce/eliminate the advantage of huge infield shifts. Suddenly Billy Hamilton might be valuable, but more importantly getting someone on base would be valuable in itself, one wouldn't always be playing for the 3-run homer.
   65. SoSH U at work Posted: August 23, 2020 at 04:51 PM (#5971698)
The wacky rule change I favor trying out somewhere (The Atlantic League? The Arizona Fall League, if that happens?) is to make it illegal for pitchers to field bunts.


I like it. Hell, you could expand the rule that a pitcher can't field any ball of any type off the mound (you know, like how they treat pop-ups already).
   66. Rally Posted: August 23, 2020 at 08:47 PM (#5971751)
Lets go back: Can you provide the average sprint speed for the league as a whole? for both 2019 and 2020.


I think it was down .5 or something like that. Going from memory. And usually its down only .1 or .2 for guys who play in consecutive seasons. But if you want to know for sure, don’t ask me, go to baseballsavant.mlb.com and download it yourself.
   67. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 24, 2020 at 07:46 AM (#5971782)

You do realize that none of your solutions would do that either, right?


you are correct. What I should have said was "none of your proposals address the issue of KOs." Right? My approach should cut down on KOs but lowering the mound. Are you not in favor of any proposal to directly cut down KOs?
   68. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 24, 2020 at 07:47 AM (#5971783)

I think it was down .5 or something like that. Going from memory. And usually its down only .1 or .2 for guys who play in consecutive seasons


Right, I was kind of thinking that was the net result. Which just seems unreal. Are we sure there's not some sort of systemic change in how they record this? What about sprint speeds in the OF? is that part of this? are those down too.
   69. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 24, 2020 at 07:50 AM (#5971784)

As statistical analysis (which concluded a strikeout is no worse than any other kind of out) became more prevalent in FOs and below, that attitude disappeared. That has influenced approach.


BUt if HR rate and ba did not change from 2006 to 2015 why would they have kept encouraging hitters to go with this approach?
   70. Rally Posted: August 24, 2020 at 07:57 AM (#5971785)
Right, I was kind of thinking that was the net result. Which just seems unreal. Are we sure there's not some sort of systemic change in how they record this? What about sprint speeds in the OF? is that part of this? are those down too.


Might be methodological. I don't know if they changed anything. I'm sure sprint speed in the OF is tracked, like everything else is tracked, but I don't think it's available publicly. I see it used every now and then to highlight a great catch. The sprint speed you can get from Savant is based on a subset of runs on the bases - the ones most likely to have a player run full speed.
   71. SoSH U at work Posted: August 24, 2020 at 08:44 AM (#5971788)
What I should have said was "none of your proposals address the issue of KOs."


This is where we disagree Sunday. Since I believe strikeouts (I assume you mean Ks, not knockouts) are largely a product of approach, then getting players to begin prioritizing contact (as putting the ball in play becomes more valuable relative to swinging and missing) will inevitably lead to fewer Ks (either by hitters changing approach, teams putting more of a premium on players that can put the ball in play in their decision making or both). I could be wrong, but if I am it's a problem with the theory, not the solution.

But if HR rate and ba did not change from 2006 to 2015 why would they have kept encouraging hitters to go with this approach?


Did the stathead view on a strikeouts being no different than any other kind of out disappear in that time frame?

The approach taken by modern hitters is to swing as hard as possible on every swing, to maximize hard contact (whether that contact results in a homer, a double or a line drive single). That is seen as the best path to offensive success.

There is no longer any emphasis on cutting down one's swing with two strikes, as had been the governing principle for a century, and was extolled by no less a hitter than Ted Williams. That philosophy simply isn't preached today. Strikeouts by hitters were once seen as the ultimate failure, and were discouraged. That isn't true any longer.

   72. Rally Posted: August 24, 2020 at 09:10 AM (#5971792)
There is no longer any emphasis on cutting down one's swing with two strikes


Watching Tampa Bay yesterday, this is definitely not true. At least for everyone not named Zunino. I’m sure they still strike out a lot, but watching the game it is apparent to me that hitting approach changes with 2 strikes. But pitcher stuff has gotten so good that even with that change, strikeouts are hard to avoid.
   73. SoSH U at work Posted: August 24, 2020 at 09:30 AM (#5971795)
But pitcher stuff has gotten so good that even with that change, strikeouts are hard to avoid.


It's a shame the hitters haven't gotten any better.
   74. BrianBrianson Posted: August 24, 2020 at 09:38 AM (#5971797)
Indeed, focussing on pitchers is obviously nuts. Pitchers have been after strikeouts since forever, because they've known it was best for them. It's hitters that've figured out their real motivations, so they're what has changed.

So, it's really rewarding them for weak contact that'd change the balance.

i.e., fielders can only use tiny, greased gloves. And astroturf in every stadium.
   75. Ron J Posted: August 24, 2020 at 10:14 AM (#5971806)
#74 Actually pitcher haven't been after strikeouts forever. There have always been pitchers who went after Ks or had an arm that allowed them to throw with (close to) maximum effort for the inning load demanded of them, but they were comparatively rare until fairly recently. But as teams have backed off what they ask of pitchers in terms of inning and/or batters faced they've responded with less (or no) pacing themselves.

It's easy to document this pacing as far back as (at least) Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch. And Dazzy Vance attributed his much higher strikeout rate to the fact that he held much less in reserve than other pitchers in the league (and even then, he said he did save a little)

If Jim Palmer was pitching today I'm not sure what his line would look like. He had great stuff but pitched in front of exceptional defenses and chose generally to pitch to (weak) contact. I have little doubt he could have been among the leaders in K/IP if pitching today in front of an unremarkable defense.
   76. Ron J Posted: August 24, 2020 at 10:19 AM (#5971808)
Further to #75, one thing I found when look at switch-hitters back around 2000 was that a very specific type of hitter was being driven from the game. The fast, low isolated power switch hitters were becoming increasingly uncommon around that time. These guys tended to have low K rates but weren't particularly productive hitters in spite of this.
   77. BrianBrianson Posted: August 24, 2020 at 10:51 AM (#5971819)
No, those facts are somewhat true, but they do not, at all, support your position. Pitchers have been after strikeouts forever. They're able to get more now as the use of relief pitchers has increased and workloads have decreased, yes. Pitchers have always known strikeouts are good for them, and wanted to get as many as they could. That they avoided trading one in this inning for two later on isn't some kind of evidence against it.

Hitters are the ones who've actually changed. They tried to avoid strikeouts because they thought they were worse than other outs. Now that they know that's basically not true, their behaviour is really changing.

Now, there's probably some feedback loops (fewer lousy hitters may push pitchers to never relax to 90%, for instance), but the fundamental change is in hitters. Solutions that make it easier to hit pitchs won't change anything (indeed, might even motivate striking out more). If you want balls in play, you gotta reward hitters more for balls in play.

Greased Gloves.
   78. Rally Posted: August 24, 2020 at 11:11 AM (#5971829)
Palmer famously never gave up a grand slam. He pitched to contact until people got on base, but with runners on he'd try for the K more.

Career K/AB:

Nobody on base: 14%
runners on: 17.2%
bases loaded: 21.7%
   79. Rally Posted: August 24, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5971830)
Further to #75, one thing I found when look at switch-hitters back around 2000 was that a very specific type of hitter was being driven from the game. The fast, low isolated power switch hitters were becoming increasingly uncommon around that time. These guys tended to have low K rates but weren't particularly productive hitters in spite of this.


Interesting. I wonder if that is more due to that type of player not making it to the majors, or teams have stopped trying to teach switch hitting to fast players who don't have power. Would Kevin Kiermaier be a switch hitter if he came up with the Cardinals in the 1980s?
   80. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 24, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5971831)
There are things that could be done to incentivize not striking out. How about if there are runners past first base, if the batter strikes out, the runners move back one base? Or maybe if there are runners on base, a strikeout ends the inning no matter how many outs there were. We'd sure see whether strikeouts are more a product of batter approach or pitcher approach, anyway.
   81. Rally Posted: August 24, 2020 at 12:24 PM (#5971843)
Do hitters have a 2 strike approach?

Looking at whiff rates by number of strikes this season I see:

0 strike 24.8%
1 strike 25.6%
2 strike 24.5%

Not much difference. Is that because hitter see more breaking balls with 2 strikes?

Fastballs

0 strike 16.7%
1 strike 18.1%
2 strike 17.5%

So hitters don't make any more contact on fastballs with 2 strikes.

But on breaking balls or off speed (anything other than fastball):

0 strike 35.5%
1 strike 32.6%
2 strike 30.1%

Looks like with 2 strikes they do a better job of getting a piece of the breaking balls. But it's a tough job.


   82. Rally Posted: August 24, 2020 at 12:29 PM (#5971845)
In any case, looks like we're getting back to normal as far as the stats that the article focuses on.

In last 2 weeks, BA is .255, BABIP .299
   83. Ron J Posted: August 24, 2020 at 01:14 PM (#5971862)
#77 You're arguing proof by assertion. How about actually backing it up?
   84. Ron J Posted: August 24, 2020 at 01:26 PM (#5971865)
#79 I think the trend to stop trying to convert switch-hitters started a little earlier. Likely at least in part to Bill James' work on the subject in the late 80s.

I mean the idea of switch-hitting was to avoid (or at least minimize) the platoon disadvantage and it was pretty easy to demonstrate that this often didn't work -- that switch-hitters often had large platoon splits.
   85. Ron J Posted: August 24, 2020 at 02:13 PM (#5971874)
#81 That's the same trend that we saw in the STATS data going back to the 80s. The key to avoiding Ks wasn't so much a contact at all cost approach with two strikes -- nobody hits a lick with this approach (well Tony Gwynn, but assuming that hitters could become Tony Gwynn at will is kind of silly) -- but rather resolving the PA before you got to two strikes.

I remember studying Adam Dunn. Assuming that he could become Ozzie Guillen ( He had the second best contact rate in the period I was looking at ) with two strikes. Dunn's Ks went way down, but the results were actually worse. 73 fewer Ks but only 16 extra points of BA and 10 fewer HR, 8 fewer 2B and 43 fewer BB in the year I looked at.

Because mostly what you do in contact at any cost is change how you make outs. Almost nobody hits much when they don't drive the ball. Yeah, Tony Gwynn. But he's a pretty exceptional player.
   86. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 25, 2020 at 07:27 AM (#5972011)
SOmewhat relevant to what Rally was saying about spring speed: Mike Trout was quoted somewhere saying that the metrics are saying that his "jump" on fly balls is worse than it was. He ascribes it to the lack of fan noise in the stadiums. I dunno if this is a factor in what Rally was studying but it may be relevant.
   87. BrianBrianson Posted: August 25, 2020 at 09:07 AM (#5972017)
Yeah, of course, #80 is right. If you changed the rules to penalise strikeouts directly, hitters would react to reduce them. If strikeouts resulted in two outs, batters would react to reduce strikeouts.
   88. Rally Posted: August 25, 2020 at 09:10 AM (#5972019)
Interesting. I don't think it's relevant to sprint speed as displayed on Baseball Savant, since that appears to be only baserunning plays. But I do find it interesting that it would be any kind of factor. I would think the athletes should be reacting faster than the fans, by the time they notice and make noise about a flyball the outfielder should already be on the move.

But I didn't see that and not sure exactly what Trout was getting at. Maybe the fake crowd noise is throwing him off? Is that something just for the TV viewers or do the players hear that too?

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