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View Full Version : Slow shift in the game's landscape?



Brutus
06-04-2009, 02:25 PM
The other day, early in the afternoon before I was called-up here, I had posted the following over on the Sun Deck:

We're not even a third of the way through the 2009 season, and there continues to be an interesting storyline developing: the return of shutouts.

After averaging 140 shutouts per season in the National League over a 3-year span from 2004-06, inexplicably, there was a total of a mere 16 shutouts in the league in 2007 over a period of 2,594 games. Strangely, last year was not much better with 30 shutouts in 2,588 games.

While the league runs per game have remained fairly constant over the past several years (just under 4.6 runs per game this year and last year), the shutouts have gone back up. This year, there have already been 43 of them in 808 games. That's one every 18.8 games, whereas two years ago there was a shutout only once every 162 games - that's an average of one per season per team.

Extremely fascinating.

Also interesting, and possibly contributing to the return of shutouts, is that home runs are being hit once every 40.4 plate appearances. This is more PA's per home run than any season in the National League since 1995. From 1999-2001, home runs were being hit every 33.3 PA's on average. It's been 1997 since the last time it even cracked 40 plate appearances per homer.

I think we're probably seeing some fallout of the affects of drug testing and a changeover into the next generation of ball players. Both batters and pitchers' average age has been trending back down to pre-steroid levels. It was customary that the average age of league players ranged between 27.5-28 years old. In the early portion of this decade, the help of medical science (and performance enhancers) spiked the average age to above 29 years old of each team. It seems the last few years, we have seen the refusal to re-sign many veteran players and we're not seeing a new generation of younger guys take over.

----------------

That was my work regarding pitching and home runs.

Well then, just a little while ago, CNNSI posted an interesting article about the return of speed:

Speed has returned to baseball in form of rampant base stealing (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/jonah_freedman/06/03/speed.returns/index.html)

So stolen bases are up to a 10-year high, while homers are a at a 10-year low. Though we'll probably never return to the pitching-crazy era of the late 1960's, mostly because of lower mounds, stronger players and smaller ballparks, it does seem the game is going through another cycle as it customarily does every decade.

remdog
06-04-2009, 02:31 PM
You need to send a copy of this post to Willy Tavaras; he of the self-subscribed 100 stolen base prediction. ;)

Rem

Brutus
06-04-2009, 02:37 PM
You need to send a copy of this post to Willy Tavaras; he of the self-subscribed 100 stolen base prediction. ;)

Rem

I would say so. Last year he stole 18 percent of the possible bases he could acquire (counting second and third only). This year, he's down to about six percent.

For someone that aspires to steal 100 bases, he's not trying very hard lol

cumberlandreds
06-04-2009, 02:39 PM
I would say so. Last year he stole 18 percent of the possible bases he could acquire (counting second and third only). This year, he's down to about six percent.

For someone that aspires to steal 100 bases, he's not trying very hard lol

I suspect he has had some sort of hamstring problem all along. Its only gotten worse as evidenced by what happened a couple of nights ago.

macro
06-05-2009, 09:37 AM
So stolen bases are up to a 10-year high, while homers are a at a 10-year low. Though we'll probably never return to the pitching-crazy era of the late 1960's, mostly because of lower mounds, stronger players and smaller ballparks, it does seem the game is going through another cycle as it customarily does every decade.

Bring it on! I'm a child of the 70s-80s! :D

Az Red
06-05-2009, 10:21 AM
Good stuff, Brutus. I am not all that surprised. Home runs are great but I love a good pitchers duel.

IslandRed
06-05-2009, 11:28 AM
Bring it on! I'm a child of the 70s-80s! :D

Same here. I mean, I understand the analytical preference for station-to-station power-based offense, but aesthetically, I liked the balance between power and speed the game had back then. Nothing better in a ballgame than the ball in play and guys running the bases. (Although, if the game involves the Reds, all I want to see the other guys doing is walking back to the dugout!)

BCubb2003
06-05-2009, 11:32 AM
It's a shame they got rid of those great old stadiums and replaced them with those cookie-cutter retro parks.

westofyou
06-05-2009, 11:53 AM
It's a shame they got rid of those great old stadiums and replaced them with those cookie-cutter retro parks.

And those parks will forever keep the power numbers up and the steals down, there will be no huge swing back to the late 70's early 80's model. Especially when you consider that back in the day there were about 60%-70% of the parks with plastic grass.. making speed a much needed tool to have.

Strikes Out Looking
06-05-2009, 11:58 AM
And the stats for this year count the horrendous thing they built in the Bronx.

Chip R
06-05-2009, 12:13 PM
It's a shame they got rid of those great old stadiums and replaced them with those cookie-cutter retro parks.


You mean the cookie-cutter stadiums like Busch and Riverfront and Veteran's Satdium, etc.?

SunDeck
06-05-2009, 12:30 PM
Bring it on! I'm a child of the 70s-80s! :D

Count me in, I loves me some baseball that requires teams to think about how to make runs happen, but it won't be the same without Saturday afternoon baseball and a little TWIB with Mel Allen.

M2
06-05-2009, 12:40 PM
And those parks will forever keep the power numbers up and the steals down, there will be no huge swing back to the late 70's early 80's model. Especially when you consider that back in the day there were about 60%-70% of the parks with plastic grass.. making speed a much needed tool to have.

The kids of today should defend themselves against the seventies. The BRM made its bones beating up on silly little turf teams that couldn't do anything but run.

My expectation is that we'll see more of a power/speed hybrid animal - guys who can punish the ball in those tiny parks, but also run a bit (15-25 SB). Ryan Braun and Matt Holliday are examples, though neither has been running much this season.

That's really where the game was headed in the '80s and I suspect what we're seeing isn't so much a retreat to rabbit ball as a gradual shift over to what unjuiced baseball would have looked like.

westofyou
06-05-2009, 12:45 PM
The kids of today should defend themselves against the seventies. The BRM made its bones beating up on silly little turf teams that couldn't do anything but run.

My expectation is that we'll see more of a power/speed hybrid animal - guys who can punish the ball in those tiny parks, but also run a bit (15-25 SB). Ryan Braun and Matt Holliday are examples, though neither has been running much this season.

That's really where the game was headed in the '80s and I suspect what we're seeing isn't so much a retreat to rabbit ball as a gradual shift over to what unjuiced baseball would have looked like.

Right, Willie Wilson had 13 Inside the park HR's by 1985, 10 of them were on turf. Fred Lynn said playing on turf hurt is defense, he had to play deeper to avoid that huge bounce in the OF. Joe Morgan said that turf created great fielders out of mediocre fielders due to the bounce being too perfect. So the turf had some good points and some not so good points, and that's not even touching on the injury factor.

Brutus
06-05-2009, 12:51 PM
That's really where the game was headed in the '80s and I suspect what we're seeing isn't so much a retreat to rabbit ball as a gradual shift over to what unjuiced baseball would have looked like.

This is my expectation as well. I think had we not seen the offensive explosion in the late 90's, we would be seeing a lot of 30-20 guys. We probably won't see many teams steal 200 bases, but I could see, in the future, a lineup of guys that can swipe a few.

BCubb2003
06-05-2009, 02:27 PM
You mean the cookie-cutter stadiums like Busch and Riverfront and Veteran's Satdium, etc.?

That's when real men played on "fuzzy concrete," to quote Johnny Bench, and shortstops bounced the throw to first.

Rojo
06-05-2009, 02:34 PM
Same here. I mean, I understand the analytical preference for station-to-station power-based offense, but aesthetically, I liked the balance between power and speed the game had back then. Nothing better in a ballgame than the ball in play and guys running the bases. (Although, if the game involves the Reds, all I want to see the other guys doing is walking back to the dugout!)

A 1-0 game, a 12-11 game, I just like it when a big a chunk of the game takes place outside of the batter's box. True outcomes can be boring.