Needing the End of an Era

Postby DOUGHBOYS » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:53 am

Three years ago, Greg was of the opinion that Major League Baseball was boring because of more strike outs. He cited an article he had read about the larger strike zone being the chief culprit.
I considered the argument silly. I could remember the strike zone of the sixties and 70's when it was knees to letters and into the 80's when Maddux and Glavine widened the plate by more than a few inches.
Strike outs were not because of a pitching zone. It was the fault of today's methodology.

Since that time, the zone has not moved much. Strike outs are still piling up, but home runs have climbed.
So now what?
If moving the strike zone above the knees, how many home runs will we see then?
Pick your poison.
We live in a time that favors the hitters. The travel is easier, ball parks are smaller, the season is even starting earlier so players can have more off days. Pitchers will have the same rest periods, hitters, more rest.

I liken home runs today to going 'All-in' in Texas Hold 'em.
Going 'All-in' was considered the tool less used by poker strategists for years. Then, a new generation used it as a primary tool,
This caught the imagination of the public and poker was watched by more viewers than ever.
Then, when it continued more and more, viewers not as excited by the action, moved on.
Like 'All-in', homers are becoming cheap.
It seems everybody (Scooter Gennett!) can hit them.

The strike outs are ridiculous.
From 1900 to 1970, less than 100 players struck out 100 times during a season. Seven decades.
It was once considered the ultimate failure for a batter.
In one season, 140 hitters (missers) struck out last year. 140!
Less than two percent of qualified batters struck out less than 100 times for 70 seasons, more than 70 percent of players struck out more than 100 times last season.
Get this...not one qualified hitter in baseball struck out less than 50 times last year, not one.
10 years past, 12 players struck out less than 50 times.
The times are not a'changin, they've changed.

Edit- In the 1920's, baseball began the live ball era. Home runs, once a rarity, became a popular part of the game.
Babe Ruth would hit more home runs than several teams combined.
Still, Ruth was roundly criticized for his hitting approach. The press and statisticians of the time, railed against the Babe for striking out way too much.
Babe Ruth never struck out even 100 times during a season.

The Ichiro's, the Gwynn's, the Boggs, and Carew's of the game have been pushed out.
It is not good enough to just hit singles.
25 players batted .300 or higher last year.
Only three of those players (Dee Gordon, DJ LeMahieu, Joe Mauer) had less than double digit home runs.
Power pitchers meet power hitters.
Jimmy Key and Pete Rose, need not apply.

Defenses are encouraging offenses to settle for singles.
Exaggerated shifts for left handed pull hitters invite a ball to be bunted for a hit.
Seldom does this happen.
A walk may be as good as a hit, but a hit is now not as good as a home run.
On the scoreboard and especially in a players wallet.

Is this all good for baseball?
Probably not.
It's another trend or era.
Baseball has a lot of trends and era's.
When the stat, BABIP came out, there was much discussion over the usefulness of the stat.
Now, batted balls in play, themselves, are the topic of discussion.
There are less and less of them.
And that, is not good for the game.
On my tombstone-
Wait! I never had the perfect draft!
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Re: Needing the End of an Era

Postby DOUGHBOYS » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:58 pm

And just an add....
The Houston Astros had two players that struck out over 100 of those players is retiring...
On my tombstone-
Wait! I never had the perfect draft!
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Re: Needing the End of an Era

Postby Bronx Yankees » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:55 pm

In 2016, the Astros struck out 23.4% of the time, which was fourth highest in MLB.

In 2017, the Astros struck out 17.3% of the time, which was the lowest in MLB. And they won the World Series.

Coincidence? Tough to say. In my opinion, cutting down on the strikeouts definitely helped the offense, which many considered to be the best in the MLB in 2017.

From the fans' perspective, we are getting too much of a good thing. Home runs are exciting. But if everyone and their brother is hitting 20+ homers, it is tough to get too excited about it. Also, the fewer balls that are in play, the less exciting is the game. Great defense should be a huge part of the game - I generally find a great defensive play to be more exciting than a home run or other offensive play. But, with fewer and fewer balls put in play, the game becomes less exciting (unless, of course, you're a big fan of pitch framing, as umpires are fooled into calling more and more strikeouts).

Mike Mager
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