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Thread: History of the Game's Strength - The Era Difficulty Rating

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous
    Unfortunately excel is on the fritz but after jumping through some hoops I got it to work for quattro.

    Anyway I don't know if I can buy the results or not.

    From 1947 on the quality of NL play is supposedly pretty mediocre, then smack dab in the middle of expansion it gets better, slide back down during the pitching era, then the latin explosion happens and the quality slides back even further and doesn't get good again until the 1980's.

    Over in the American League after expansion the league stays mediocre to bad then again right around expansion gets good, falls back to mediocre for the pitching era then falls back to mediocre during the latin expansion and again doesn't get good again until the 80's.
    Actually...the AL's peak in performance happens right BEFORE most of the expansion (1962 was a minor expansion in either league...the big expansions didn't happen until 1969 and 1977...both of which BTW are signularly responsible for the drop in quality of play in both leagues IMHO

    The other approach I've seen to test quality of play has been W% mobility analysis...how doable is it for teams to find players and go from bad to good in short periods...there are times during the depressed 30s/40s/50s ESPECIALLY in the NL...where W% mobility is terribly low...where a couple of good teams dominated for long stretches and not many of the others had a chance to compete except for during the war where talent was essentially randomly scrambled.

    The National League became seriously stagnant in the middle of the 20th century. Skewness values are astoundingly consistant...WWII aside...from 1927 to 1962 and begin slowly climbing during rapid expansion...(reflecting a drop in the quality of play)...you say "quality slides during the pitcher's era"...I say "quality slides during the EXPANSION era...and doesn't rebound until the leagues adjust to the expansion in 1981.

  2. #27
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    Bill James view:
    The ďIndex of Competitive Balance,í which is a new measurement introduced here, is composed of two elements. Those two elements are:

    1. The standard deviation of winning percentages for teams in each single season during the decade, averaged.
    2. The standard deviation of winning percentages among franchises for the decade as a whole.

    The first of these measures the extent to which the best teams in any season are able to dominate the weakest teams. The second measures the extent to which the same teams win season after season throughout the decade.
    If baseball was perfectly competitive Ė that is, if every team was exactly as good as every other team, and the only differences between them were in luck- then the first measure above would be .039, and the second would be .014.
    The actual figures for the 1870ís were .170 and .081; Iíd have to spend about three more paragraphs to fully explain the parameters used to derive these numbers, and Iím going to skip that, because itís boring. These two figures (in each decade) are then added together, and the sum is divided by .053, which is what the sum would be in a perfectly competitive environment. This figure is then divided into 100 to produce the index of competitive balance. In other words, if the sum of these two standard deviations was .106, that would be 2.00 times what it would be in a perfectly competitive environment, which would produce an index of 50%. A perfectly competitive index is therefore 100%.
    You may not have understood all of that, and you donít need to. The essential point is that the greater the difference is between the best teams and the worst, the lower the index of competitive balance. The 1870s are the least competitive decade in baseball history, with an index of 21%.

    Decade Index of Competitive Balance
    1870ís 21%
    1880ís 24%
    1890ís 27%
    1900ís 30%
    1910ís 36%
    1920ís 34%
    1930ís 41%
    1940ís 34%
    1950ís 34%
    1960ís 40%
    1970ís 45%
    1980ís 56%
    1990ís 57%


    Notes: (One thing) that made the races more competitive (in the 60ís) was expansionÖÖ.because a twelve-team league is inherently more difficult to dominate than an eight-team circuit.
    ÖÖ.The 1980ís, the first full decade of free agency, were by far the most competitive years in baseball history up to that point, and also the decade in which the small-city markets enjoyed their most success everÖÖIn the early 1990ís this continued to be true; baseball was highly competitive, and not at all dominated by Big Market teams. But as the decade has moved on, competitive balance has begun to fray. The standard deviation of winning percentage, which was .054 in 1990 (one of the lowest figures in baseball history) jumped to .081 in 1998, the highest figure since 1977.

    I have a theory that the quality of play in major league baseball, over time, could be tracked by what we could call ďPeripheral Quality IndiciaĒ - PQI, for short. Hitting by pitchers is a peripheral quality indicator; the higher the quality of play, in my opinion, the less the pitchers will hit. I have a list of about a dozen of these:

    1. Hitting by pitchers
    2. The average distance of the players, I age, from 27.
    3. The percentage of players who are less than six feet tall or more than 6í3Ē
    4. Fielding Percentage and Passed Balls
    5. Double Plays
    6. Usage of pitchers at other positions
    7. The percentage of fielding plays made by the pitchers.
    8. The percentage of games which are blowouts
    9. The average attendance and seating capacity of the game location.
    10. The condition of the field.
    11. The use of players in specialized roles.
    12. The average distance of teams from .500.
    13. The percentage of games which go nine innings.
    14. The standard deviation of offensive effectiveness.
    15. The standard of record-keeping.
    16. The percentage of managers who have 20 years or more experience in the game.

    Ok, more than a dozen. Anyway, letís array teams in ways which we all agree represent top to bottom:

    1. Major League Baseball.
    2. Minor League Baseball.
    3. College baseball.
    4. High School baseball.
    5. Ten-year-old kids playing baseball.
    6. Seven-year old kids attempting to play baseball.

    If you studied that list, you would find that all of these things increased or decreased predictably as the quality of competition improved. The eigth indicator, for example, is the number of blowouts. My seven-year old son (Reuben) is on a team that lost one game 26-3, and won the next game 31-0. In high school blowouts are still common, but there are more games which arenít blowouts. In college ball you get a few 18-0 games Ė more than you get in the minors or the majors. If you hear that a game has been decided 41-2, donít you tend to assume that that was probably a low-level competition?
    Batting stats and pitching stats do not indicate the quality of play, merely which part of that struggle is dominant at the moment. But fielding stats are somewhat inevitably tied to the level of competition, I ways which are reflected in the ratio between double plays and errors. In Reubenís games, most balls in play result in errors, while I have seen only one double play all year. In my thirteen-year-old sonís games, there are still about five times as many errors as double plays. In college ball there are still more errors than double plays, but it is closer, while in the majors there are more double plays than errors.
    In Reubenís league, the average distance from age 27 is abot 20 years; in high school, about ten years, in college, about seven years, in the majors, probably three years.
    In Reubenís league, the games are attended by a handful of people; in high school, by a few dozen; in college, by hundreds; in the minors, by thousands; in the majors, by tens of thousands.
    In Reubenís league, pitchers make far more fielding plays than players at any other position. In high school, they still make as many as at any other position; in college, fewer, but still some, while in the majors the pitchers make only one or two fielding plays per game.
    When kids start playing baseball the pitchers are the best hitters, in high school, the pitcher is still very often the cleanup hitter, but as they climb the ladder the pitchers hit less and less.
    In Reubenís league there are no statistics at all. In high school baseball there are sketchy statistics kept by some teams. In college ball there are statistics, but not lots of them, while for the major leagues there are nitwits like me who grind them out by the ton.
    If you worked at it hard enough, you could make up a set of standards to ďscoreĒ each of these things, which would track the increases in the quality of competition as Reuben moves to the major leagues, although frankly how you score the quality of the grounds keeping, I donít want to know.
    Anyway, my point is that if track major league baseball from 1876 to the present, all of these indicia, without exception, have advanced steadily. As late as the 1920ís, there were still major league managers who had little experience with the game. I know that many people passionately disagree with me when I argue that the quality of play in the majors has continued to increase, but even since 1950, all or virtually all these indicators would suggest that the quality of major league play has improved steadily.
    The best-hitting pitchers of the 21st century donít hit anything like what Bob Lemon hit, or Spahn, or Newcombe, or the other good-hitting pitchers of that era.
    Success in the majors by very young players has become significantly less common (although success by old players has probably become more common).
    In the 1950 major league pitchers averaged about 240 assists per team; in 2001, in a longer season, the average will be less than 200.
    In 1950 there were about 1.2 double plays for each error. In 2001 the ratio will be at least 1.3 to one.
    Player/managers, who were the youngest and least experienced managers, have become extinct.
    The stadiums and crowds are bigger, the statistics are better, the grounds keeping standards are far higher. The teams are closer to .500. I havenít studied it, bt I would bet there are fewer blowouts, fewer lop-sided games.
    During World War II, when we could all agree that the quality of major league play dropped, these indicators reflect the drop. World War II brought into the game more players who were remote in age from 27 Ė more teenagers, and more old men. The double play to errors ratio, 0.86 to 1 in 1941 and advancing almost every year, dropped slightly during the war years.
    When there is an expansion, these indicators reflect the drop in the quality of play. Expansion brings into the league younger players, and keeps in the league older players. Expansion pushes the standard deviation of winning percentage up and the fielding percentage down.
    And yet, over time, these effects are not large enough to keep the PQI from moving higher. Is that proof that the quality of play is getting better? Perhaps it isnít. But that is what I believe, and this is one of the reasons I believe it.


  3. #28
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    I was also add that one of the major reasons we had our best league play in the early 80s was the onset of and correct application of FREE AGENCY...free agency seriously altered the playing field...created for teams a chance to get talent they never would have had in the dead-roster era (baseball prior to 1976) where players didn't move around much and where talent collected it had a tendency to stagnate.

  4. #29
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    One note of caution Ubiquitus...you're comparing apples to oranges.

    I'm talking about league talent DEPTH...you're talking about competitive balance...they're somewhat related but NOT the same. You can have a well balanced league where all eight teams within SUCK...it will look well balalnced...but the run scoring distribution will have large skew because from game to game, each team will be making mistakes and run scoring will happen in bunches and often.

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    I did something like this awhile back, it was just a quick and dirty query in which I measured the STD of batting averages and the league averages.

    Basically what I found was a lot of the same stuff you found with your test. Deadball era does the worst, pre WWII does very well, integrations years not so hot, then the late 90's and into the 2000's having high quality.

    It appears if one wants to assume that a low spread and high average as an indicator of quality that white baseball had probably hit its peak just before WWII. That the infrastucture of baseball for whites was setup well enough that they were employing the best that the white could offer.
    Once integration happened in full force league quality went down. Why? Personally I think it is because it turned out that the lower tiered whites were not as good as the upper tiered blacks but they were not pushed out because the blacks were given a limited role. Meaning middle and lowered tiered blacks were still not allowed to play. Until around 1996 were the spread stays consistently small and the Average stays consistently high.

    Now does that mean I personally believe the AL was in such upheaval and radically redefining itself for over 50 years? No I don't I think the pitchers and DH have some effect on the league average which would definitely effect the rankings. When I look at the NL I will know more.

    I personally don't believe that the years immediately before integration and WWII as baseball's highest quality. I believe its a deception based on not letting a good chunk of talent play the game. In otherwords they created and artificial ceiling while at the same time shoring up the floor.

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by SABR Matt
    Actually...the AL's peak in performance happens right BEFORE most of the expansion (1962 was a minor expansion in either league...the big expansions didn't happen until 1969 and 1977...both of which BTW are signularly responsible for the drop in quality of play in both leagues IMHO

    The other approach I've seen to test quality of play has been W% mobility analysis...how doable is it for teams to find players and go from bad to good in short periods...there are times during the depressed 30s/40s/50s ESPECIALLY in the NL...where W% mobility is terribly low...where a couple of good teams dominated for long stretches and not many of the others had a chance to compete except for during the war where talent was essentially randomly scrambled.

    The National League became seriously stagnant in the middle of the 20th century. Skewness values are astoundingly consistant...WWII aside...from 1927 to 1962 and begin slowly climbing during rapid expansion...(reflecting a drop in the quality of play)...you say "quality slides during the pitcher's era"...I say "quality slides during the EXPANSION era...and doesn't rebound until the leagues adjust to the expansion in 1981.

    The AL in 1961 expanded by 25%, the 69 expansion was a growth of 20%. The 1977 by 17%. All and all each expansion was an addition of two teams. How can an expansion of two teams be minor in 1961 but be major in 1969?

    But nobody how we want to label the expansion both leagues improved during the first expansion and declined during the next two. Then in the 90's they improved again during expansion. It doesn't appear to me that your data supports expansion as a reason for the slide.

  7. #32
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    Let me do something here...

    I'm now using EDR2...isntead of EDR1 because I think it's logically a little more consistant to take the skew of a range of years rather than the average of a range of skews.

    What I've done is to calculate DELTA...the difference between a year's EDR2 and year before it.

    I want to see in which years league difficulty increased by the largest amounts from previous years and see if those times make sense...same for rapid decreases.

    Top Increases:

    1887 NL: probably has something to do with rules changes making for better games.
    1878 NL: Dropped from attempts to field 8 teams to fielding only 6...major rules changes and longer schedules begin.
    1959 AL: Negro League Baseball collapses...black wave rushes through major league baseball at every level throughout the 50s...improvements effect league depth from mid 50s to 1962.
    1886 NL: See 1887 NL
    1891 NL: AA players flockign to NL in droves as AA's demise becomes apparent.
    1983 NL: Combination of Latin Expansion and Free Agency
    1908 AL: Deadball era weakest in modern times...improvements begin as Ty Cobb and other talented players finally begin to emerge and enrich the talent pool
    1981 NL: Free Agency and Latin craze (Fernando!!)
    1927 AL: AL begins heading into first golden age of depth...most of the great players you can think of from the 20s played in the AL...the NL by comparison was pathetically weak.
    1916 NL: Federal League players return to the majors
    1994 AL: league begins recovering from 1993 expansion blip...steroids fill clubhouses

    These are all making sense to me...

    Let's try drop-offs:

    1942 AL: WWII
    1952 AL: NL's smaller parks and better scouting prevail...NL fully integrates LONG before AL does...this is why AL lags behind NL throughout the 50s
    1883 AA: AA was never a strong league, but 1882 appears to be the fluke here...probably caused by lack of preceding years in the skew averaging
    1947 AL: Talent shift to the NL starts right around here...
    1920 AL: Hmm...this one I'm not sure about...
    1986 NL: still a strong league in 1986...just coming down from a peak in '84/'85
    1898 NL: A lot of teams beginning to go bankrupt...scouting of new players all but STOPPED in this period.
    1951 NL: one year blip...not sure what caused this one...NL returned to previous standards shortly hereafter.

    I could go on...

    EDR2 looks a little more consistant than EDR1 did...but the overall impression I get is that expansion killed off the positive effects of the latin wave until free agency commensed and the latin wave really took off in the 80s...and the peak in performance just prior to expansion in the late 50s was probably due to Negro League talent.

  8. #33
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    To me, just because its harder to stand out in a league, doesn't necessarily mean that the league is better in quality. It means that there is only so high the top 5% can go, and era differences allow the middle guys to get closer to them, making it appear more talented overall. Lower guys become middle, middle become upper, and top 5% remain, but can't dominate as much.
    "Everyone left here, but I remain at my post, documenting my sports writers and photos. I don't do Ty Cobb anymore. I did for him everything I could do. Work will live on. Personalities will fade.

    Fever members come and go. Not relevant. Your documentations will live FOREVER, my brother. That outweighs all the Fever jack-asses. Ignore what you must, document all you can."
    - Bill Burgess

  9. #34
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    You're comments were of course based on working with batting averages and the like, but you're comments about improper use of the negro leaguers does have merit...I think the reason the AL and NL both rapidly improved in the late 50s/early 60s but the AL was WAY behind the NL in mid 50s was that Negro Leaguers had more of a chance to play in the 50s NL than they did in the 50s AL...and that full integration really didn't even begin until just prior to expansion.

    Notice though that rapid improvement STOPS in 1962 in both leagues and through the 60s there is retrogression...which goes on right through about 1979...expansion did weaken the game...but it rapidly recovered when FA and Latino baseball really started taking off...I think I'm on at least generally the right track here...The data appears to make sense from where I'm sitting...obviously...that's up for debate.

  10. #35
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    Sultan...

    think about it this way...if you're an elite player facing a league where there's a large difference between your performance and the second tier guys...don't you think it will be easier for you to do your job than if you're an elite player facing competition filled with a bunch of other players who are close behind you?

  11. #36
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    Ah...I see what's going on...I'm looking at EDR2...you're still looking at EDR1...EDR2 paints a slightly different picture of the 60s...I think a more accurate one.

    Here's that data for the NL:
    Code:
    Year    Lg      EDR1    LgG     EDR2    DELTA
    1955	NL	0.812	1232	0.802	0.005
    1956	NL	0.810	1242	0.807	0.005
    1957	NL	0.806	1238	0.812	0.005
    1958	NL	0.823	1232	0.839	0.027
    1959	NL	0.843	1240	0.840	0.001
    1960	NL	0.858	1238	0.838	-0.002
    1961	NL	0.866	1238	0.861	0.023
    1962	NL	0.863	1624	0.852	-0.009
    1963	NL	0.853	1622	0.864	0.011
    1964	NL	0.848	1624	0.839	-0.025
    1965	NL	0.838	1626	0.823	-0.016
    1966	NL	0.814	1618	0.812	-0.011
    1967	NL	0.781	1620	0.826	0.014
    1968	NL	0.780	1626	0.817	-0.009
    1969	NL	0.808	1946	0.818	0.001
    1970	NL	0.831	1942	0.798	-0.020
    1971	NL	0.826	1944	0.807	0.009
    1972	NL	0.808	1860	0.818	0.011
    1973	NL	0.795	1942	0.820	0.002
    1974	NL	0.798	1944	0.797	-0.023
    1975	NL	0.809	1942	0.798	0.002
    1976	NL	0.805	1944	0.777	-0.022
    1977	NL	0.787	1944	0.784	0.008
    1978	NL	0.772	1942	0.796	0.012
    1979	NL	0.777	1942	0.806	0.010
    1980	NL	0.817	1946	0.820	0.014
    1981	NL	0.875	1288	0.860	0.040
    1982	NL	0.923	1944	0.838	-0.022
    1983	NL	0.932	1948	0.883	0.045
    1984	NL	0.900	1942	0.871	-0.012
    1985	NL	0.852	1942	0.859	-0.012
    There are a couple of blips out of place in the DELTA pattern...but you have to look at the general flow of the data because statistical data is never going to be perfect.

    I see lots of minuses in the DELTA field through the early expansion era...then it fluctuates for a bit...then takes off after the third expansion.

    That makes sense to me.

    Particuarly...notice when the increases begin...1977...the first full year of free agency.

  12. #37
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    Here's the AL over the same span...
    Code:
    Year    Lg      EDR1    LgG     EDR2    DELTA
    1955	AL	0.715	1236	0.749	-0.012
    1956	AL	0.746	1236	0.755	0.006
    1957	AL	0.795	1232	0.777	0.021
    1958	AL	0.841	1238	0.798	0.022
    1959	AL	0.868	1236	0.860	0.062
    1960	AL	0.887	1234	0.880	0.019
    1961	AL	0.901	1622	0.899	0.020
    1962	AL	0.906	1618	0.883	-0.016
    1963	AL	0.897	1616	0.883	0.000
    1964	AL	0.874	1628	0.872	-0.011
    1965	AL	0.844	1620	0.852	-0.020
    1966	AL	0.823	1612	0.837	-0.015
    1967	AL	0.807	1620	0.815	-0.022
    1968	AL	0.797	1624	0.822	0.007
    1969	AL	0.803	1946	0.813	-0.009
    1970	AL	0.818	1946	0.814	0.000
    1971	AL	0.829	1932	0.816	0.003
    1972	AL	0.823	1858	0.845	0.028
    1973	AL	0.830	1944	0.829	-0.016
    1974	AL	0.846	1946	0.851	0.022
    1975	AL	0.852	1926	0.835	-0.015
    1976	AL	0.839	1934	0.842	0.007
    1977	AL	0.838	2262	0.845	0.004
    1978	AL	0.836	2262	0.842	-0.004
    1979	AL	0.835	2256	0.840	-0.001
    1980	AL	0.839	2264	0.869	0.029
    1981	AL	0.858	1500	0.880	0.011
    1982	AL	0.899	2270	0.905	0.025
    1983	AL	0.941	2270	0.925	0.020
    1984	AL	0.968	2268	0.937	0.012
    1985	AL	0.967	2264	0.933	-0.005
    The AL is even more pronounced and makes things even clearer.

    1977 there was no expansion in the NL...in the AL there was...the end result...Free Agency and the expansion cancel each other out and the league holds steady. Meanwhile in the 60s the AL drops from a peak of .899 jsut prior to expansion to .813 after the '69 expansion.

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    You say it stops at 1962 but why would it continue to increase during expansion and only decline after it?

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by SABR Matt
    Sultan...

    think about it this way...if you're an elite player facing a league where there's a large difference between your performance and the second tier guys...don't you think it will be easier for you to do your job than if you're an elite player facing competition filled with a bunch of other players who are close behind you?
    No, because the point is that players "talent" hasn't gotten better. Era factors have allowed EVERYONE to become good if not great, which closes the gap toward the top 5%.

    Knowing that average players can become great because of the style of play, will push the top 5% harder (or make them cheat to gain an edge), but the my point is that there's a ceiling to the top 5%. Steroids have allowed some of these guys to poke their head through the ceiling (pun intended, ya know big craniums, ok you get it), such as 66,70, 73, but overall there's a max.
    "Everyone left here, but I remain at my post, documenting my sports writers and photos. I don't do Ty Cobb anymore. I did for him everything I could do. Work will live on. Personalities will fade.

    Fever members come and go. Not relevant. Your documentations will live FOREVER, my brother. That outweighs all the Fever jack-asses. Ignore what you must, document all you can."
    - Bill Burgess

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    Ubiquitus...your question confuses me...

    It doesn't "continue to increase throughout expansion"...difficulty rating drops throughout the sixties after the peak in 1961 (except the blip rise in 1963 in the NL...again....there are going to be blips...but it's the overall picture)...and levels off after the 1969 expansion.

    There are several factors that cause it to level off rather than continue to drop (Latin Players, increased roles for Negro Players, improvements in training, medical treatments for injuries and the rules change that lowered the height of the mound leap to mind as contributors to the stable 70s).

    There is an assumption I think that the expansion shuold IMMEDIATELY and FINALLY alter the talent balance...that it should be one thing before each expansion...and another reduced thing thereafter...I don't think it quite works that way...each expansion brings with it two "bad teams"...those two teams don't really begin to suck talent out of the rest of the league for a few years...their crappiness is isolated...when the league levels out to accept the new teams...that's when the full effects of expansion are felt.

  16. #41
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    To Sultan

    I'll grant that there is possibly a ceiling to human achievement...but you're thikning only in terms of offense...league talent depth runs on both sides of the ball.

    Part of the reason the 1990s register is highly deep is that although offense increased...it did not go through the roof like it did in previous eras...the batters improved...SO DID THE PITCHERS...and in fact...the in play hit rate did not climb that much from lesser offensive leagues of the 70s and 80s...which says the fielding must also have improved or at least stayed the same.

    Compare that to the late 1960s where we had a run of great pitchers...but the hitters did NOT respond in kind...there was a large imbalance.

  17. #42
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    The AL expands in 1961, that year EDR2 is at its highest peak until the 80's. The next year it slides slightly but again is at its highest until the 80's. It holds it level in 1963 then starts it slides as the pitching era takes over.

    The NL expands in 1962, in 1961 its at it highest until the 80's, it slips during 1962 but again it is at its highest until the 90's. Then in 1963 it surpasses even the high mark of 1961 before starting its slide into the pitchers era.

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by SABR Matt
    To Sultan

    I'll grant that there is possibly a ceiling to human achievement...but you're thikning only in terms of offense...league talent depth runs on both sides of the ball.

    Part of the reason the 1990s register is highly deep is that although offense increased...it did not go through the roof like it did in previous eras...the batters improved...SO DID THE PITCHERS...and in fact...the in play hit rate did not climb that much from lesser offensive leagues of the 70s and 80s...which says the fielding must also have improved or at least stayed the same.

    Compare that to the late 1960s where we had a run of great pitchers...but the hitters did NOT respond in kind...there was a large imbalance.
    You say that pitching has improved, but using the naked eye along with baseball knowledge, its clearly watered down. How many guys need to be seasoned down in the minors, but clubs have too much invested in them to keep them there. How many old timers are just hangin' around because they are a bargain, and they're only asked to go 5 innings, or get 2 outs in relief. Why do you think pitchng has increased in this era? Because strikeouts are up? That shows a hitters approach.

    Defense have improved because of many factors as well. Less ground to cover, smooth infields and outfields, bigger gloves, scouting charts, etc. What causes this to be rendered slightly more meaningless, is that today's style of play is slug for the fences, strikeout or nothing type of baseball.

    Hey Sabermatt, do you have stats that show the number of fly ball outs recorded for each year?
    "Everyone left here, but I remain at my post, documenting my sports writers and photos. I don't do Ty Cobb anymore. I did for him everything I could do. Work will live on. Personalities will fade.

    Fever members come and go. Not relevant. Your documentations will live FOREVER, my brother. That outweighs all the Fever jack-asses. Ignore what you must, document all you can."
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  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous
    The AL expands in 1961, that year EDR2 is at its highest peak until the 80's. The next year it slides slightly but again is at its highest until the 80's. It holds it level in 1963 then starts it slides as the pitching era takes over.

    The NL expands in 1962, in 1961 its at it highest until the 80's, it slips during 1962 but again it is at its highest until the 90's. Then in 1963 it surpasses even the high mark of 1961 before starting its slide into the pitchers era.
    As I said Ubiquitus...it takes a few years for the effects of an expansion to be felt fully IMHO...what you basically have when you expand a league is the other teams the way they were before minus a few lesser players...and then the exapnsion teams...which are basically dogs.

    It's not until the Expansion teams start pulling on the rest of the league seriously that they can really have an impact on the run scoring distribution or on the overall average level of competition faced by any one player.

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    How come that doesn't really happen at any other expansion?

    One observatiomn I take away from this is that it looks to me that there never were enough white players to stock 16 teams and have good overall leagues. For instances in the 30's AL league play was high but it was at the expense of the NL. The NL during that stretch was not good.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sultan_1895-1948
    You say that pitching has improved, but using the naked eye along with baseball knowledge, its clearly watered down. How many guys need to be seasoned down in the minors, but clubs have too much invested in them to keep them there. How many old timers are just hangin' around because they are a bargain, and they're only asked to go 5 innings, or get 2 outs in relief. Why do you think pitchng has increased in this era? Because strikeouts are up? That shows a hitters approach.

    Defense have improved because of many factors as well. Less ground to cover, smooth infields and outfields, bigger gloves, scouting charts, etc. What causes this to be rendered slightly more meaningless, is that today's style of play is slug for the fences, strikeout or nothing type of baseball.

    Hey Sabermatt, do you have stats that show the number of fly ball outs recorded for each year?
    I wouldn't go so far as to say the entire style of play in the 90s/00s has been "slug for the fences or nothing"...walks are also up...as hits aren't "down"...it's basically the 80s contact game PLUS more walks and power...

    I have...somewhere in my huge stack of data...groundball/flyball percentages through time...and the flyball rate is in fact up in the liveball era...in fact it goes up in every liveball era because managers and players aren't stupid...they sense the ball is getting easier to hit farther/faster...they're going to try to elevate it.

    So yes...fielding is being aided by less ground to cover (although the new parks added since Safeco field have been largely pitcher's parks so that trend is starting to reverse), more flyballs, and better equipment and scouting...but that's all part of the same package...the end result is that the quality of play has improved all around in the 90s...perhaps I should be careful to avoid using the word "talent" because that implies that these changes are entirely in the hands of the players...clearly...they aren't...but when you're trying to see how any player would do in a neutral environment...you have to factor out things outside his control...including the league difficulty...and a league difficulty can be raised by either improving player depth...or by improving playing conditions.

    As for your comments on pitching...I'll say that the main thing that's really had a positive impact on pitching is the era of reliever specialization. The strain is coming off the starters and pitchers are being used in roles that they can maximize their abilities (lefties facing lefties...pitchers with unique deliveries being used to throw off batters in critical situations...power pitchers facing contact hitters and control artists facing pull hitters...etc)...it's easy to get bogged down in the offensive statistics and blame the pitchers...but I submit to you that the primary factor in raising offense in the recent seasons has been the live ball and the small parks...NOT the pitching.

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous
    How come that doesn't really happen at any other expansion?

    One observatiomn I take away from this is that it looks to me that there never were enough white players to stock 16 teams and have good overall leagues. For instances in the 30's AL league play was high but it was at the expense of the NL. The NL during that stretch was not good.
    Answer to question first:

    Actually it's happening as we speak...the 1998 expansion came at a time when baseball was again very strong...since '98 the AL weakened significantly and the NL stopped improving (problems here...interleague play...the crossing of league barriers more than ever...I expect to see the leagues become increasingly homogeneous with time...and it appears they are in fact doing that...so an expansion in any league will impact them both)...

    Of course...it's not perfect...but I think it's a pretty darned good first step.

    And I think we didn't see a gradual drop in the 70s because there were other factors obscurring that negative influence...the Latin surge (which was MUCH larger than the Negro surge in terms of new talent)...free agency...Tommy John surgery...and...dare I say it...sabermetrics in their fledgling forms aiding in better scouting and development...

    The final graph of depth rating versus time is the result of adding and subtracting many different possible pulls on the skill of the league.

    To your observation now...I FULLY agree. As I said earlier...think of ten great players from the 30s...I'll be shocked if the first ten you think of include more than one or two NL stars...the NL in the 30s was HORRIBLE...the era difficulty rating is absolutely correct in seeing a very large difference between the two leagues there...I was glad to see it sniff that out.

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by SABR Matt
    but I submit to you that the primary factor in raising offense in the recent seasons has been the live ball and the small parks...NOT the pitching.
    wow, I agree with a "saber" guy on something. Just playin'

    We can add to that : smaller strike zone, lighter and harder bats, can't come inside anymore, body armor, etc.

    In the face of all this, its truly amazing that any pitchers succeed. Ironically, most of them "do" succeed, because of the overall hitters approach. Its become like a certain type of martial art (the one Segal apparently knows), where you use the others persons strength/momentum against him in a fight. This has to be the pitching approach nowdays. You're not gonna succeed by just by having a blazing fastball.
    "Everyone left here, but I remain at my post, documenting my sports writers and photos. I don't do Ty Cobb anymore. I did for him everything I could do. Work will live on. Personalities will fade.

    Fever members come and go. Not relevant. Your documentations will live FOREVER, my brother. That outweighs all the Fever jack-asses. Ignore what you must, document all you can."
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  24. #49
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    All of that stuff...the body armor...the strike zone...that's all a part of why the game is deeper now than ever...or clsoe anyway...that came about because players and coaches got smarter and smarter...the pitchers got smarter too...they learned to counter all of that...

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by SABR Matt
    All of that stuff...the body armor...the strike zone...that's all a part of why the game is deeper now than ever...or clsoe anyway...that came about because players and coaches got smarter and smarter...the pitchers got smarter too...they learned to counter all of that...
    Its certainly why the game is "easier" than ever for average players. How many guys hit 25-30 HR per season. I bet its gone way up from the mediocre players now being able to reach that total.

    IMO, they came about because offense = money. Baseball shows no interest in correcting these issues because all they see is $$$$$$$$$$$$ They're appealing to the lowest intellectual form of baseball fan. Not a good move if you've got the best interest of the national pastime in mind eh.
    "Everyone left here, but I remain at my post, documenting my sports writers and photos. I don't do Ty Cobb anymore. I did for him everything I could do. Work will live on. Personalities will fade.

    Fever members come and go. Not relevant. Your documentations will live FOREVER, my brother. That outweighs all the Fever jack-asses. Ignore what you must, document all you can."
    - Bill Burgess

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