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texasdave
06-09-2010, 12:08 PM
...or push it back a bit?

A little context is in order.

During the late '70s or maybe early '80s a magazine entitled Baseball Digest ran an article that mentioned the fact that only a couple of pitchers could touch 90 MPH with their fastball. 90 MPH used to be the benchmark of a pitcher with a very good fastball.

Fast forward to today and a 90 MPH fastball is really only average at best. Does it surprise anyone at all when they hear someone throws mid-90's nowadays? Players are bigger and stronger and throw the ball harder. I was reading the profiles on the draftees and every pitcher it seems can throw in the mid-90s.

So what if this trend continues? What happens when 95 MPH is nothing special and 100 MPH becomes the benchmark?

Last night we got a glimpse of what happens when a pitcher can touch 100 MPH with control, along with complementary off-speed pitches. It seems logical to believe that with more pitchers being able to throw harder, that there are going to be be more of those pitchers with both control and off-speed stuff.

How do batters adapt? Can they increase bat speed? Do all but the best start to choke up and become contact hitters?

Magdal
06-09-2010, 01:09 PM
Without steroids I believe the only way to increase bat speed is, yes, choking up. I don't understand why you wouldn't with dominating pitchers. The amount of contact increases with more hits AND foul offs, greatly increasing the pitch count.

That little gnat Eckstien is the only guy I know of that chokes up, and he is near or at the top in the least strike outs every season.

Caveman Techie
06-09-2010, 01:39 PM
They already lowered the mound once in 1969 from 15 inches to 10 inches.

There has definitely been drop off in home runs recently (due to testing for steroids?) but just because one pitcher can flirt with 100MPH and can dominate a bad team is not a reason to start changing things again.

krm1580
06-09-2010, 02:06 PM
I think you might be getting a little ahead of yourself with changing the mound height or distance.

Here are a couple of points I think are worth mentioning.

1.) Don't believe draft prospect scouting reports. A guy sits at 88-92 and then "touches" 95 on what might be a fast gun suddenly has a scouting report saying he can throw 95. Look at Mike Leakes scouting report from last year. It has him as 94. The hardest I have seen him throw is 92 and I have seen that once. Most of the time he is 87-90.

2.) There are less guys throwing 95+ now than there were during the height of the steroid era. Guys like Eric Gagne who never threw harder than 93 were suddenly hitting 98-99 routinely.

3.) In 1968, the last time they lowered the mound the offensive/defensive production was badly skewed. There were 16 pitchers finishing the season with Eras under 2.30, including 7 with ERAs under 2.00. There were 6 hitters in all of baseball with BAs over .300. Today there are 10 pitchers with ERAs under 2.30, 2 under 2.00 and nearly 40 guys batting over .300 and the hot weather that helps out the offenses has not started yet.

4.) The same strength training and nutritional programs that allows pitchers to get stronger and throw harder is the same one that hitters use to increase their strength and bat speed so there is not really a huge advantage to the pitchers.

I guess the final point is, there a a reason why Steven Strausburg is so hyped and it is because he is an extremely rare occurence. He has 100mph velocity, command and most importantly his pitches have good movement.

Back in 1997 the #1 overall pick in the draft was a kid name Matt Anderson who had a fastball that litterally sat 100-102 but he had no control and it was straight as an arrow so when it did get over the plate it was generally screaming over the outfield wall at 130mph.

Lets see where things are at the end of the year. I don't think the game needs to be altered right now.

arkimadee
06-09-2010, 02:50 PM
could you imagine pujols getting even slower pitches... ouch

Oxilon
06-09-2010, 03:16 PM
I think the better question is, when do the Reds move the fences back at GABP? Low mound, high mound, either way, routine flyballs are landing at the warning track and beyond. It's beyond ridiculous.

Kingspoint
06-09-2010, 05:02 PM
....

COM2010
06-09-2010, 05:06 PM
Pretty soon pitchers will be throwing from foxholes. ;)

texasdave
06-09-2010, 08:56 PM
I think you might be getting a little ahead of yourself with changing the mound height or distance.

Here are a couple of points I think are worth mentioning.

1.) Don't believe draft prospect scouting reports. A guy sits at 88-92 and then "touches" 95 on what might be a fast gun suddenly has a scouting report saying he can throw 95. Look at Mike Leakes scouting report from last year. It has him as 94. The hardest I have seen him throw is 92 and I have seen that once. Most of the time he is 87-90.

2.) There are less guys throwing 95+ now than there were during the height of the steroid era. Guys like Eric Gagne who never threw harder than 93 were suddenly hitting 98-99 routinely.

3.) In 1968, the last time they lowered the mound the offensive/defensive production was badly skewed. There were 16 pitchers finishing the season with Eras under 2.30, including 7 with ERAs under 2.00. There were 6 hitters in all of baseball with BAs over .300. Today there are 10 pitchers with ERAs under 2.30, 2 under 2.00 and nearly 40 guys batting over .300 and the hot weather that helps out the offenses has not started yet.

4.) The same strength training and nutritional programs that allows pitchers to get stronger and throw harder is the same one that hitters use to increase their strength and bat speed so there is not really a huge advantage to the pitchers.

I guess the final point is, there a a reason why Steven Strausburg is so hyped and it is because he is an extremely rare occurence. He has 100mph velocity, command and most importantly his pitches have good movement.

Back in 1997 the #1 overall pick in the draft was a kid name Matt Anderson who had a fastball that litterally sat 100-102 but he had no control and it was straight as an arrow so when it did get over the plate it was generally screaming over the outfield wall at 130mph.

Lets see where things are at the end of the year. I don't think the game needs to be altered right now.

I wasn't suggesting that the mound needs to be lowered or moved back now. I can see pitchers outgrowing the dimensions of the field at some point in the future.

Magdal
06-09-2010, 09:46 PM
Krm that was the best post I've seen here. Good job. (of course I've only been here 3 days)

texasdave
06-10-2010, 01:14 AM
I borrowed these numbers from Fangraphs:

This is a list of the average velocity of starter's fastballs yearly starting in 2002. This is the first year that I saw that Fangraphs had this type of data. I am guessing that 2002 is still the 'steroids' era since testing had not yet begun.


YEAR 90+% 93+%
2002 48% 11%
2003 46% 4%
2004 45% 10%
2005 42% 7%
2006 51% 13%
2007 57% 14%
2008 66% 16%
2009 73% 21%
2010 71% 16%

The second column (90+%) is the percentage of starters who, for that particular year, had an average fastball of at least 90 MPH. In 2002 it was just less than half at 48%. By 2009 it was markedly higher as almost 3 out of 4 starters had an average fastball of 90 MPH.

The third column (93+%) is the percentage of starters who, for that particular year, had an average fastball of at least 93 MPH. In 2002 it was about one out of every ten. By 2009 it had jumped to about one out of every five.

Here is a link in case anyone wants to check out the numbers for themselves.
http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=y&type=4&season=2010&month=0
I don't know where Fangraphs got their data from - maybe Game Day.

And I believe the math is right. It seems clear (unless I made a mistake somewhere) that pitchers are indeed throwing with more velocity these days than they did during the 'steroids' era.

Kingspoint
06-10-2010, 02:27 AM
...or push it back a bit?

A little context is in order.

During the late '70s or maybe early '80s a magazine entitled Baseball Digest ran an article that mentioned the fact that only a couple of pitchers could touch 90 MPH with their fastball. 90 MPH used to be the benchmark of a pitcher with a very good fastball.



Those 90-mph Fastballs had more movement on them when players used to doctor the ball more often.

I think a batter would rather face a 95-mph fastball today more frequently than those 90-mph fastballs of 40-60-80 years ago.

I've always understood they've raised and lowered the mound when they feel there are too little or two many runs being scored. They change the strikezone when they want the ball hit more up in the air or more down on the ground and also for adjusting the runs.

It's a very odd game where they can maneuver things in this way to change the game itself.

Kingspoint
06-10-2010, 02:33 AM
I borrowed these numbers from Fangraphs:

This is a list of the average velocity of starter's fastballs yearly starting in 2002. This is the first year that I saw that Fangraphs had this type of data. I am guessing that 2002 is still the 'steroids' era since testing had not yet begun.


YEAR 90+% 93+%
2002 48% 11%
2003 46% 4%
2004 45% 10%
2005 42% 7%
2006 51% 13%
2007 57% 14%
2008 66% 16%
2009 73% 21%
2010 71% 16%

The second column (90+%) is the percentage of starters who, for that particular year, had an average fastball of at least 90 MPH. In 2002 it was just less than half at 48%. By 2009 it was markedly higher as almost 3 out of 4 starters had an average fastball of 90 MPH.

The third column (93+%) is the percentage of starters who, for that particular year, had an average fastball of at least 93 MPH. In 2002 it was about one out of every ten. By 2009 it had jumped to about one out of every five.

Here is a link in case anyone wants to check out the numbers for themselves.
http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=y&type=4&season=2010&month=0
I don't know where Fangraphs got their data from - maybe Game Day.

And I believe the math is right. It seems clear (unless I made a mistake somewhere) that pitchers are indeed throwing with more velocity these days than they did during the 'steroids' era.

Boy, it's really changed a lot in just the last few years.

Maybe because it's harder and harder to doctor the ball and get away with it because of all the cameras at every ballpark now,.... that as a result velocity has become more important. Movement has always been more important, but it's harder to get the movement "legally" now. You don't have to go back very many years to remember "doctoring of pitches" (see Clemens). It was the norm for over 100 years. Velocity was second to movement in importance.

DirtyBaker
06-10-2010, 02:48 AM
Daniel Ray Hererra is the reason the mound should stay exactly where it is. :)

texasdave
06-10-2010, 02:53 AM
Daniel Ray Hererra is the reason the mound should stay exactly where it is. :)

I'd love to see Dusty walk out to the mound with a phone book when DRH was coming in to pitch. :)

flash
06-11-2010, 07:23 PM
...or push it back a bit?

A little context is in order.

During the late '70s or maybe early '80s a magazine entitled Baseball Digest ran an article that mentioned the fact that only a couple of pitchers could touch 90 MPH with their fastball. 90 MPH used to be the benchmark of a pitcher with a very good fastball.

Fast forward to today and a 90 MPH fastball is really only average at best. Does it surprise anyone at all when they hear someone throws mid-90's nowadays? Players are bigger and stronger and throw the ball harder. I was reading the profiles on the draftees and every pitcher it seems can throw in the mid-90s.

So what if this trend continues? What happens when 95 MPH is nothing special and 100 MPH becomes the benchmark?

Last night we got a glimpse of what happens when a pitcher can touch 100 MPH with control, along with complementary off-speed pitches. It seems logical to believe that with more pitchers being able to throw harder, that there are going to be be more of those pitchers with both control and off-speed stuff.

How do batters adapt? Can they increase bat speed? Do all but the best start to choke up and become contact hitters?

I will trust the information given, but I have my doubts.

1. Nolan Ryan was reported as having a 100 MPH fastball.
2. Jim Maloney was clocked at 99. I have read, but I cannot document, that Maloney could match Johnson in speed, but not over nine innings. Might be true, Maloney holds the record for consecutive K's in a game. He had 10 before Aaron hit a double off him. Aaron later stated if Maloney had throw him a fastball rather than a curve he would have been #11.
3. Then there was Koufax. I couldn't find a speed recorded on him.
4. Although it was another era, Bob Feller was clocked at 98.6 mph, but this was done by equipment used by the Army to clock the speed of artillery shell. The ball's speed was also clocked as it was passing home plate. If it passed the plate at 98 you know it was thorn well in excess of 100. Feller and Walter Johnson agreed that Johnson was faster, but didn't have Feller's curve. Johnson was clocked at 91 in 1917.
5. I don't know if it is true or not, but I have also read that Griffith Stadium where Johnson pitched did not have a mound at all.

6. Gary Nolan was also said to have been extremely fast at the beginning of his career. He did once strike out 15 Giants in a game including the Say Hey kid 4 times.
7. I have heard it said that Bo Belinsky could hit 120, which I find a little far fetched. I also heard that the day they were going to clock him he was so wild they could do it because he could get the ball over the plate.

I don't know if it was the lower mound or other factors that led to a resurgence of offense in the 70's.

1. Besides lowering the mound, MLB also made the strike zone smaller in 1969. I don't know exactly, but it was lowered from the armpit to the middle of the chest I believe. In any event the high hard one became a thing of the past.
2. Ballparks begin to give batters a better background at this time. Wrigley field even closed down their centerfield bleachers.
3. Batters begin charging the mound when they felt they had been thrown at, and batters also begin wearing a lot of protective gear. The pitcher's ability to throw fear into the batter became extinct, (Gibson and Drysdale were renown for coming inside when they believed it was neccesary.) Doug Rader related once how he hit a home run off Gibson then waited in fear forhis next at bat because he knew Gibson would come inside.