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 Post subject: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 12:56 pm 
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Source: Buster Olney's MLB Tonight podcast from last week.

This year, 28% of PAs have resulted in either a strike out or a walk. That is up 40% from 1990.

My personal take? When nearly 30% of PAs result in a ball not being put in play, MLB as a whole suffers. I don't think that I'm alone in desiring to see more balls put in play. That relates not only to the "passivity" discussion earlier in the week but to my lamenting what I perceive to be a trend in baseball that fewers hitters employ a two strike hitting approach and strike outs are more frequent.

Perhaps more importantly, I am a die hard baseball fan. I'm not going to stop watching simply because walks and Ks are trending up. However, where does that leave the casual fan? Olney pointed out that Anthony Rendon referred to baseball as being boring. With less action (in the form of batted balls and in number of runs scored), the casual fan will likely have less interest.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:37 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
Source: Buster Olney's MLB Tonight podcast from last week.

This year, 28% of PAs have resulted in either a strike out or a walk. That is up 40% from 1990.

My personal take? When nearly 30% of PAs result in a ball not being put in play, MLB as a whole suffers. I don't think that I'm alone in desiring to see more balls put in play. That relates not only to the "passivity" discussion earlier in the week but to my lamenting what I perceive to be a trend in baseball that fewers hitters employ a two strike hitting approach and strike outs are more frequent.

Perhaps more importantly, I am a die hard baseball fan. I'm not going to stop watching simply because walks and Ks are trending up. However, where does that leave the casual fan? Olney pointed out that Anthony Rendon referred to baseball as being boring. With less action (in the form of batted balls and in number of runs scored), the casual fan will likely have less interest.

Agreed. You don't need to see 165 pound shortstops taking all or nothing hacks at the baseball. I'm not comparing levels of ability here, but there are a ton of guys who would be much better off emulating Tony Gwynn instead of Dave Kingman. Take Carlos Gomez for example. Can you imagine the numbers he might put up if he'd stop wasting two swings of every at bat trying to hit the ball to Detroit? If he'd just stay within himself he'd be a much better hitter, and he has enough power that he'd still get his fair share of home runs. It looks like everybody out there went to the Freddie Patek school of hitting.

I didn't live through it, but I imagine that the 50's was probably the most boring period to watch baseball. Not as many strikeouts as today, but the entire game was nothing but power and walks. There was no base stealing to speak of. I liked the baseball of the 70's-80's best. You had sluggers, you had bat control artists, you had base stealers, a little bit of everything. Baseball could use a few Brett Butlers today. Variety is the spice of life.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:39 pm 
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sisyphus wrote:
No. 9 wrote:
Source: Buster Olney's MLB Tonight podcast from last week.

This year, 28% of PAs have resulted in either a strike out or a walk. That is up 40% from 1990.

My personal take? When nearly 30% of PAs result in a ball not being put in play, MLB as a whole suffers. I don't think that I'm alone in desiring to see more balls put in play. That relates not only to the "passivity" discussion earlier in the week but to my lamenting what I perceive to be a trend in baseball that fewers hitters employ a two strike hitting approach and strike outs are more frequent.

Perhaps more importantly, I am a die hard baseball fan. I'm not going to stop watching simply because walks and Ks are trending up. However, where does that leave the casual fan? Olney pointed out that Anthony Rendon referred to baseball as being boring. With less action (in the form of batted balls and in number of runs scored), the casual fan will likely have less interest.


Agreed. You don't need to see 165 pound shortstops taking all or nothing hacks at the baseball. I'm not comparing levels of ability here, but there are a ton of guys who would be much better off emulating Tony Gwynn instead of Dave Kingman. Take Carlos Gomez for example. Can you imagine the numbers he might put up if he'd stop wasting two swings of every at bat trying to hit the ball to Detroit? If he'd just stay within himself he'd be a much better hitter, and he has enough power that he'd still get his fair share of home runs. It looks like everybody out there went to the Freddie Patek school of hitting.

I didn't live through it, but I imagine that the 50's was probably the most boring period to watch baseball. Not as many strikeouts as today, but the entire game was nothing but power and walks. There was no base stealing to speak of. I liked the baseball of the 70's-80's best. You had sluggers, you had bat control artists, you had base stealers, a little bit of everything. Baseball could use a few Brett Butlers today. Variety is the spice of life.

Agreed. It's one thing to see a Nolan Ryan type mowing people down. That's fun too. The poor hitting approach sort of goes along with the general lack of fundamentals you see in this era. More emphasis seems to be put on athletic ability, and not on fundamentals. Also, I'm sure a lot of guys figure being a HR hitter makes you more money. Whatever the case, I agree with both of you. Add in pace of play and it can become a pretty lethargic game...


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:51 pm 
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sisyphus wrote:
Agreed. You don't need to see 165 pound shortstops taking all or nothing hacks at the baseball. I'm not comparing levels of ability here, but there are a ton of guys who would be much better off emulating Tony Gwynn instead of Dave Kingman. Take Carlos Gomez for example. Can you imagine the numbers he might put up if he'd stop wasting two swings of every at bat trying to hit the ball to Detroit? If he'd just stay within himself he'd be a much better hitter, and he has enough power that he'd still get his fair share of home runs. It looks like everybody out there went to the Freddie Patek school of hitting..


I believe this is simply the environment most of today's players grew up in... the steroid era. Just like the era made PNC a "fair" hitters park, I believe it created a bunch of 125 lb kids who thought they were going to be Babe Ruth, or Barry Bonds, and from Little League up , developed said approach.

I would expect a whole lot more Tony Gwynn's coming in the next generation.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:57 pm 
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But one of the reasons for the increasing K rate is not due to batter failure, but instead simply because now every team has 7 guys who throw 95 mph+.

In the 1960's and 1970's, Nolan Ryan was a freak because he threw 97 mph.

Now, he would be the 3rd hardest thrower on the Pirates.

The velocity increase plays a pretty big role in the K rates.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:17 pm 
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Bucfan wrote:
But one of the reasons for the increasing K rate is not due to batter failure, but instead simply because now every team has 7 guys who throw 95 mph+.

In the 1960's and 1970's, Nolan Ryan was a freak because he threw 97 mph.

Now, he would be the 3rd hardest thrower on the Pirates.

The velocity increase plays a pretty big role in the K rates.

I agree with your point, that's definitely a factor.

If you really believe that Nolan Ryan was only throwing at 97 in the 70's I have some prime Florida swampland I'd like to sell you.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:56 am 
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Sisyphus wrote:
If you really believe that Nolan Ryan was only throwing at 97 in the 70's I have some prime Florida swampland I'd like to sell you.

Were you the fellow who sold all that land to Walt Disney? ;)

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:38 pm 
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bassoondirector wrote:
Sisyphus wrote:
If you really believe that Nolan Ryan was only throwing at 97 in the 70's I have some prime Florida swampland I'd like to sell you.

Were you the fellow who sold all that land to Walt Disney? ;)

God, I wish I was.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:35 pm 
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sisyphus wrote:
If you really believe that Nolan Ryan was only throwing at 97 in the 70's I have some prime Florida swampland I'd like to sell you.

There was nowhere near the data on pitch velocity back in the 1970's than there is now, but a few games I saw broadcast in Ryan's heyday featured discussions of his radar gun readings. (Not every team even had radar guns in 1973.)

The broadcasters on the Saturday NBC game talked about the fact that the radar readings had Ryan at 97 mph. Ryan threw hard, but what made him so unique was that he threw hard for decades.

In fact, Tom House, the pitching coach for the Texas Rangers, was once asked if anyone would ever be able to throw harder than Nolan Ryan. House replied, "Others will throw harder, but no one will throw harder for longer."


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:54 pm 
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Bucfan wrote:
sisyphus wrote:
If you really believe that Nolan Ryan was only throwing at 97 in the 70's I have some prime Florida swampland I'd like to sell you.

There was nowhere near the data on pitch velocity back in the 1970's than there is now, but a few games I saw broadcast in Ryan's heyday featured discussions of his radar gun readings. (Not every team even had radar guns in 1973.)

The broadcasters on the Saturday NBC game talked about the fact that the radar readings had Ryan at 97 mph. Ryan threw hard, but what made him so unique was that he threw hard for decades.

In fact, Tom House, the pitching coach for the Texas Rangers, was once asked if anyone would ever be able to throw harder than Nolan Ryan. House replied, "Others will throw harder, but no one will throw harder for longer."

I have my doubts about the primitive radars from back in those days, but Ryan came in a 100.9 in a 1974 game. The ways that speed was measured then and now make it really hard to compare between the eras, but this page gives it a shot.

http://www.efastball.com/baseball/stats ... r-leagues/

Today speed is measured 50 feet from home plate, but at 10 feet from home in Ryan's day, which gives much lower readings. The folks at the link above conclude that Ryan's fastball measured by today's methods would clock in at over 106 mph, perhaps as high as 110 mph. His longevity IS incredible, but part of the reason for it is that he started with the ability to throw ridiculously hard, so as age took it's toll, he lost a lot off of his fastball, but still threw as hard as anybody. I tried to find data on his fastball speed from late in his career, but couldn't find anything reliable. His page at Wikipedia claims that his last pitch, right after he hurt his elbow, was clocked at 98 mph, but who knows if that's true. Looks like B.S. to me, but there's no question that he was throwing well into the 90's at the age of 46. House is right, some day somebody will throw harder, but we haven't seen that guy yet.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:19 pm 
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This is definitely a problem, IMO. Even as a big fan of the game, I find myself flipping the TV channel when watching a Pirates game because there's so much downtime. Selig claims the fans aren't complaining about it, but maybe that's because being at the stadium is different. I'm enjoying the sun, friends, and the view as much or more than the game itself.

Problems with the current game:

a) Too much wasted time between pitches

This one's simple. Put 'em on the clock. Take too long and you get a ball or strike, as appropriate. Yes, the players will complain. So what. They're paid a lot of money, and in any event they will adjust, just like players always do to rules changes. Though, would the MLB have to run this by the union?

b) Too many pitches (the aforementioned K/BB rate increases) without contact.

According to fangraphs, in 1950 the K/BB rate were 10% each, but in 2014 the K% is 20% and the BB% is 8%. That's a pretty big difference. There are 22 more pitches per game in 2014 vs 1988. I'd like to see the overall swing and contact rates to see if that's because players are more patient, or because they simply can't catch up to the ball. Either way, you can try tweaking things to reward less passivity and encourage more contact. For example, would moving the mound back a few feet help? More outrageously, move the mound back even more, but also make it 3 balls for a walk, and 2 strikes for an out. I'm not seriously suggesting that, btw, but I would love to watch a preseason game with that change. If you don't like any overt rules changes, then speeding up the game might tire pitchers more and force them to put less on each pitch, thus improving contact. Or having an automated strike zone call might allow hitters to get a consistent strike zone, and improve their contact rate.

c) Too much power

Double and triples are way more exciting than homers IMO. Move the fences back 20 feet, or widen the foul lines in the outfield. The drawback here is that it reduces the ability of teams to come back from large deficits. So, actually, I'm not sure about this one.

And the some minor ones:

d) Too many stoppages late in the game (pitching changes)

Don't allow warmup pitches off the mound after coming in from the bullpen (except between innings).

e) Too much time between innings.

Easy to fix, but they won't do it since it costs them commercial $$$.

f) Instant reply.

I like instant replay, but the walk-out-on-the-field-while-we-decide-if-we'll-challenge is silly. Have a guy in the booth. If he sees a close play he signals a halt in play and is allowed 15 or 30 seconds to review the play. This isn't perfect, but will get 95% of the obvious blown calls and it'll do as good as the current system in the hard-to-tell-even-in-slow-motion cases.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:25 pm 
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rks wrote:
d) Too many stoppages late in the game (pitching changes).

When Corsair, Mrs. Corsair, Corsair's sister-in-law, Mrs. Bucfan, and I were at the Pirates 5-0 win over the Giants, the Giants manager made a pitching change, bringing in Javier Lopez (the ultimate LOOGY) to face Polanco in the top of the 9th, one out, bases empty.

Holy @#$&, I guess Lopez is such a good pitcher that he can hold the Pirates to -5 runs.

Those kind of dumbass pitching changes, and the managers who obsess of righty vs. lefty or lefty vs. lefty, drive me insane.

Say what you will about Hurdle's refusal to implement a LOOGY strategy with Wilson and Watson, he spares us from those God-awful, 3-pitching changes, 20 minute, boring innings.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:57 am 
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rks wrote:
c) Too much power

Double and triples are way more exciting than homers IMO. Move the fences back 20 feet, or widen the foul lines in the outfield. The drawback here is that it reduces the ability of teams to come back from large deficits. So, actually, I'm not sure about this one.

Major League teams are averaging 0.87 home runs per game this season. That number wouldn't look a bit out of place in the 50's, 60's, 70's or 80's. I'd just as soon skip going back to the pre-WWII era numbers. They should be higher than that from the improvement from the addition of African American players alone.

Quote:
And the some minor ones:

d) Too many stoppages late in the game (pitching changes)

Don't allow warmup pitches off the mound after coming in from the bullpen (except between innings).

You have to give a new pitcher some throws to get used to the mound. It's not the same as the one in the bullpen.

I'd save some time by limiting catchers to one mound visit per inning, and eliminate all trips to the mound by coaches or managers.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:58 am 
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Bucfan wrote:
rks wrote:
d) Too many stoppages late in the game (pitching changes).

When Corsair, Mrs. Corsair, Corsair's sister-in-law, Mrs. Bucfan, and I were at the Pirates 5-0 win over the Giants, the Giants manager made a pitching change, bringing in Javier Lopez (the ultimate LOOGY) to face Polanco in the top of the 9th, one out, bases empty.

Holy @#$&, I guess Lopez is such a good pitcher that he can hold the Pirates to -5 runs.

Those kind of dumbass pitching changes, and the managers who obsess of righty vs. lefty or lefty vs. lefty, drive me insane.

Say what you will about Hurdle's refusal to implement a LOOGY strategy with Wilson and Watson, he spares us from those God-awful, 3-pitching changes, 20 minute, boring innings.

Not to mention the fact that both have done better vs. righties this year :D

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:25 am 
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Stop allowing the batter to call timeout. There is no need for it.

Also, end the mentality that it's break time right after each pitch.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:37 am 
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sisyphus wrote:
rks wrote:
c) Too much power. Double and triples are way more exciting than homers IMO.
Major League teams are averaging 0.87 home runs per game this season. That number wouldn't look a bit out of place in the 50's, 60's, 70's or 80's.

My argument isn't so much to return to historic levels. It's simply to promote more exciting plays, and IMO double and triples are the most exciting plays in baseball, especially when there are baserunners. Some current homeruns would get converted to outs instead of doubles, though, plus the drawback I mentioned above (harder for teams to come back from a deficit), which is why I'd like to see this tried out in preseason first.

sisyphys wrote:
You have to give a new pitcher some throws to get used to the mound. It's not the same as the one in the bullpen.

You don't have to. Do we have actual evidence that they'll throw more balls without warmups, or is it speculation? Even if they throw balls when they come in, so what? If anything, that's a good disincentive to bring in relievers -- and the question is, do you want to encourage or discourage frequent pitching changes? No other sport allows backups to come in and practice on the field while we all wait. In particular, backup QBs are similar, and they seem to do ok.

sisyphus wrote:
I'd save some time by limiting catchers to one mound visit per inning, and eliminate all trips to the mound by coaches or managers.

Agreed. Another easy one to fix.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:47 am 
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I'm having a hard time trusting those Ryan radar numbers, what with the huge variation between innings.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:10 pm 
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rks wrote:
My argument isn't so much to return to historic levels. It's simply to promote more exciting plays, and IMO double and triples are the most exciting plays in baseball, especially when there are baserunners. Some current homeruns would get converted to outs instead of doubles, though, plus the drawback I mentioned above (harder for teams to come back from a deficit), which is why I'd like to see this tried out in preseason first.

I know that's not WHY you want less home runs, I'm just pointing out that reducing them will take us back to the 1930's, or worse, to the dead ball era. Baseball would die as a spectator sport in that sort of offensive atmosphere. I certainly wouldn't be anywhere near as interested.

Quote:
You don't have to. Do we have actual evidence that they'll throw more balls without warmups, or is it speculation? Even if they throw balls when they come in, so what? If anything, that's a good disincentive to bring in relievers -- and the question is, do you want to encourage or discourage frequent pitching changes? No other sport allows backups to come in and practice on the field while we all wait. In particular, backup QBs are similar, and they seem to do ok.

Actually you DO have to, and not for control issues. It's for potential injury issues. No two mounds are the same.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:33 am 
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sisyphus wrote:
I know that's not WHY you want less home runs, I'm just pointing out that reducing them will take us back to the 1930's, or worse, to the dead ball era. Baseball would die as a spectator sport in that sort of offensive atmosphere. I certainly wouldn't be anywhere near as interested.

It is possible to increase scoring while decreasing home runs. Forgetting the mechanism to generate them for a second, would you be interested in baseball if there were 30% fewer home runs, but enough of an increase in singles, double, and triples to make the scoring the same or greater?

sisyphys wrote:
Actually you DO have to, and not for control issues. It's for potential injury issues. No two mounds are the same.

It would be difficult to convince me that the increased injury potential would be significant.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Trend - Ks and Walks
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:38 am 
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rks wrote:
sisyphus wrote:
I know that's not WHY you want less home runs, I'm just pointing out that reducing them will take us back to the 1930's, or worse, to the dead ball era. Baseball would die as a spectator sport in that sort of offensive atmosphere. I certainly wouldn't be anywhere near as interested.

It is possible to increase scoring while decreasing home runs. Forgetting the mechanism to generate them for a second, would you be interested in baseball if there were 30% fewer home runs, but enough of an increase in singles, double, and triples to make the scoring the same or greater?

No, I wouldn't, not that it matters, because there is no way to do that without making huge fundamental changes to the game and building a lot of enormous new ballparks.

rks wrote:
sisyphys wrote:
Actually you DO have to, and not for control issues. It's for potential injury issues. No two mounds are the same.

It would be difficult to convince me that the increased injury potential would be significant.

It wouldn't be significant to you, but it sure would be significant to the teams who are signing these guys to guaranteed contracts. Pitchers have been permitted warmups since the game was invented, so it's not like it's some new innovation that added time to the games. Besides, would you rather just watch the pitcher stand on the mound waiting for all the commercials to end?

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