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Thread: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

  1. #1
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    Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    I have read on this site as well as other sites that the pitching in the Major Leagues is better now then ever before, and thus the offensive run production is down.

    I believe there are a few things causing this shift.
    PITCHING
    1. Pitchers are throwing harder than ever before. There is no denying that at all. They have more pitches in their repertoires and it is much more difficult for hitters to identify those pitches. It use to be a starter had a four seam, perhaps a two seam with a little movement, either a curve or a slider (rarely did a pitcher have both) and a straight change. Now, the starters generally throw in a cutter, some have splitters, so on and so forth.
    With the higher velocity, there is less reaction time.

    2. Relievers now are better than ever before. It use to be that most relievers were just older starters that could not get the job done. However, nearly every team is taking some of their incredibly talented throwers from the minors and putting them in the pens. ie Chapman. In years past those pitchers would have been starters through and through...

    DEFENSE
    The scouting reports, defensive shifts, and better athletes in the field.

    OFFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY
    Here is one big thing. Now, I base this solely on my own playing experience, so bear with me. I have counted and throughout my high school and college career I played against 6 future major league pitchers (that I know of--there were a couple in national tournaments that I thought were great pitchers, I just forgot their names over the course of 20 years).

    Now a few of us could hit these stud pitchers, but there was a different approach we had to take with them. We did not want to fall behind in the count to them. Bottom line. See the ball and hit it early in the count. Get a decent fastball and go. If we got into the hole with two strikes... YIKES.

    The major point I am making is this.... with Moneyball and sabermetrics...and the focus on working a high pitch count and walks for a better on-base average. IF there is an organizational emphasis/ league-wide philosophy on seeing as many pitches, you are putting hitters in compromising positions from the start.

    Just in my limited experience, I never felt comfortable with two strikes (even against lesser competition), but that was just my approach. I wanted to get the at bat finished before two-strikes.

    At first glance, I loved the late 90's and early 00's Yankees teams because many of them were experienced/talented enough to work a deep count and get the starters out by the sixth--but those were some great ballplayers in NY.

    But now... I think for MOST teams, getting to the bullpen is not all that rewarding. (Obviously you have some lesser teams in the MLB that just have horrific relievers, but for the most part those reliever are coming in and throwing 90+ and making life difficult with not only right-handed but left handed specialists...etc.

    The bottom line is this. If you are focused on working a pitcher...and seeing as many pitches as possible, and that pitcher is of equal or better talent than you are--then it is my belief that you are playing right into their hands. These starters are now conditioned for a couple of things.
    1. Pitch 6 innings of three runs or less.
    2. Knowledge that the hitter/team is looking to work the count and take a walk.
    3. Greater emphasis on get ahead stay ahead. (Obviously this is age-old BUT now, knowing that hitters are being conditioned to see more pitches, I have seen more first pitch fastballs getting middle-out than in A LONG TIME.)

    I think a team of hitters that can still be effective taking pitches and working a count will create a decent ball club--but bear in mind... most of those hitters are either veterans or just really good baseball players.

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    Moderator RedlegJake's Avatar
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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    I think the pitchers are really that much better today - for the reasons you elucidated. They throw harder, with greater repertoire, and are only expected to go 6 innings. Anything beyond that is bonus. And the relievers are good from the minors on - rarely used to see guys groomed for relief. Now pitchers like Carlos Contreras, with a ton of talent, actually want to be relievers. Defensively, I see plays every game that were rare gems in the 60s and 70s. It's not that those guys couldn't make those plays on occasion but today's outfielders tend to cover more ground, and replacement level infielders have good range. There are still the Billy Butler's but they tend to end up in the AL DHing or pinch hitting in the NL. More teams are sacrificing offense to the glove at key positions, too - SS/2B and CF, C. That is a return to old time baseball before the 80s, 90s and aughts 'offense first who cares if they catch it' philosophy.

    You mentioned you had your own approach and I think that is important to keep in mind for every hitter. Ludwick loves to swing early. Votto prefers to see a lot of pitches. Chris Carpenter loves to hit with two strikes, lots of guys don't. When a team stresses seeing pitches and patience across all players I think that might be detrimental - especially if you change up a guy who makes his own approach work. Basically anything that might help weaker hitters is worth trying but just help your good hitters stay in their own comfort zones. Overall I think this might be a small factor but it's way less so than harder throwers, better wrinkles like cutters, better top flight relief talent and increased emphasis on defense.
    Interesting to think about, though.
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    Old school 1983 (05-04-2014)

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    You make valid points. People who don't bother to do the research blame the decline of offense on drug testing but that's completely false. Offense is down because contact is down and strikeouts are up. There's never been a time in baseball's history where there were less balls in play than now. Home run rates per contact are actually consistent with the "steroid era." (other than a spike during the post expansion years)
    numbersinthereds.blogspot.com I actually made a post on 7/24/14. I promise.

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    KYExtemper (05-06-2014), Old school 1983 (05-04-2014), RedlegJake (05-04-2014)

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    The guys you are seeing in the 6th and 7th innings coming out of the bullpen are far superior to what they were even 10 years ago...at least from a pure talent standpoint.

    I fear that too many professionals (never mind the fans who saw Moneyball and thought to themselves "hey, I can do that too") in today's game have placed an overreliance on numbers they see on a spreadsheet. SABR is a useful tool, not the only tool when evaluating players.

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    Don Votto (05-04-2014), Old school 1983 (05-04-2014)

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    You all make good points here. Pitching is such a priority now, such care is taken with not only the arsenal of pitches, but also the manner in which the pitchers are used. We tend to see pitchers who are "fresh" instead of starters who go deep into a game, get tired, and give up some offense just from being tired. Why do this when you can just load up a fresh arm to bring in from the bullpen? And, the sharper and more fresh the pitcher is, the more effective his stuff tends to be.

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    I think offense/defense tends to cycle in and out of sports. Let's hope the new commish doesn't buy into the calls of some elements of the sports media that "there's not enough offense!" and implements a silly rule, like a smaller strike zone, to screw up the game.

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    Quote Originally Posted by KYExtemper View Post
    I think offense/defense tends to cycle in and out of sports. Let's hope the new commish doesn't buy into the calls of some elements of the sports media that "there's not enough offense!" and implements a silly rule, like a smaller strike zone, to screw up the game.
    Or lowering the mound, an SI article from 1969: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...ne/MAG1082211/

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    I heard Peter Gammons mention the other day this is a major concern for MLB, as fans want more offense. Gammons suggested limiting the number of pitchers on a staff to 11. This would eliminate a lot of the specialization. He specifically mentioned how fun it would be to see Votto against someone other than a lefty specialist from the 7th inning on, but how it was unlikely now.

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    Pitching is definitely better these days but not the ultimate indicator of success, Reds have had great pitching the last couple seasons and haven't won a playoff series so while it's better the best teams score runs

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Jones View Post
    The guys you are seeing in the 6th and 7th innings coming out of the bullpen are far superior to what they were even 10 years ago...at least from a pure talent standpoint.

    I fear that too many professionals (never mind the fans who saw Moneyball and thought to themselves "hey, I can do that too") in today's game have placed an overreliance on numbers they see on a spreadsheet. SABR is a useful tool, not the only tool when evaluating players.
    What does that have to do with the rise of strikeouts?
    numbersinthereds.blogspot.com I actually made a post on 7/24/14. I promise.

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    Quote Originally Posted by gilpdawg View Post
    What does that have to do with the rise of strikeouts?
    The pitchers are better?

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Jones View Post
    The pitchers are better?
    I was asking about the Moneyball part.
    numbersinthereds.blogspot.com I actually made a post on 7/24/14. I promise.

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    Quote Originally Posted by gilpdawg View Post
    I was asking about the Moneyball part.
    What about it?

    That movie hasn't caused the rise in strikeouts.

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Jones View Post
    What about it?

    That movie hasn't caused the rise in strikeouts.
    I'm confused. You brought it up. Unless that was just an unprovoked shot at sabermetrics.
    numbersinthereds.blogspot.com I actually made a post on 7/24/14. I promise.

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    Re: Pitching better nowadays? Why? Offensive focus on OBP and walks = struggles.

    Quote Originally Posted by gilpdawg View Post
    I'm confused. You brought it up. Unless that was just an unprovoked shot at sabermetrics.
    What are you confused about? I didn't say anything about Moneyball causing the rise in K's.

    What it has caused, is a lot of amateur Bill James' thinking their spreadsheets are the be all end all in evaluating baseball players.

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    Old school 1983 (05-08-2014)


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