Beyond the obvious — you think you can win one of the MillersTime Baseball Contests, you’re going to see me in a few days and don’t want to be embarrassed when I refer to something I wrote, you’re looking for free tickets to a Nats’ game, you’re a member of my family and want to humor me — there is the possibility that once or twice a year I might have something useful to say about baseball.
I was reminded of this last reason this morning (Wed.) when I saw on the front page of the NYTimes the headline, “Many Strikeouts, Fewer Runs/As Pitchers Gain Upper Hand.” Having written a post on this very topic, Sluggers’ Slump: What’s Going on Here? I was curious to see if the author of the Times’ piece, John Branch, had anything new to say (or anything I didn’t say).
Basically, Branch said what most others have been saying: that the “MLB pitchers are dominating hitters in ways not seen in at least 20 years — or by some standards, ever.” He cited numerous statistics to back that up (lowest HRs per game since 1992, lowest runs per games since 1981, lower overall BA, .251, lowest OBP since 1972, more team strikeouts per game, 7.7, highest in history, fewest walks per game by pitchers since 1968, etc.).
These were not too different from the statistics I pointed out in my Sept. 18th article, tho I think the ones I used were even more convincing.
When Branch got to explaining why pitching is dominating hitting, he cited four reasons:
*the cleaning up of banned substances,
*increased use of specialized relief pitching,
*trend toward relentless power pitching in the bullpen, and
*improved analytics that lead to changes in pitching strategies and defensive shifts
But there was nothing about the ‘change’ in the strike zone that seems to have occurred about 2008, which, if my article is accurate, is a huge factor, certainly equal to if not more important that the four ‘popular explanations’ for why pitchers have become more dominant.
Now I readily admit that the NYTimes front page is not the best authority on what’s happening in baseball (we’ll leave out any discussion about whether they’re the best authority on anything), but almost no one is writing or talking about the change in strike zone (other than the two sources I cited).
So, if you haven’t read my post on this subject, go back and take a look at it.
I think you’ll find it informative.
Which is something I try to do every so often at MillersTime/GoSox.