Originally posted by Steven Gallanter View Post
Yes, that is one of many factors.

In 1893 the pitcher's mound was moved from 50' to 60'6" thus decreasing the velocity of the pitches. This made it relatively easy to make contact. Players of the time stood facing the pitcher very much like cricket players. Pictures of Wee Willie Keeler will confirm this. Stances were open and the batters almost faced the pitcher with the front foot pointed at the pitcher and the back foot at a 90 degree angle. This provided a stable base from which the batter could begin his swing. Babe Ruth; describing his style in BABE RUTH'S BOOK OF BASEBALL as told to Ford Frick, describes his style as "swinging from the heels".

Bats were gripped with a split handed grip that enabled placement hitting. Ty Cobb used this approach long after it had been abandoned by most.

The grass of the infield was cut at the whim of the home teams and not regulated. Thus, contact hitting was the most effective way of scoring.

I think that you will find that all baseball strategy attempts to adapt successfully to playing conditions.

Additionally,balls weren't regulated. Some balls were horsehide, some cowhide and some were made of pigskin. The centers did not always contain cork. The # of stitches were not regulated. Some balls were hand stitched and some were machine stitched.

The rule of thumb is...that there wasn't any!

A more accurate description of the "deadball era" might be the "non-standardized ball" era. Albert Spalding, the owner of the Boston Braves persuaded owners to adopt the 108 stitch, machine-made, cork centered ball to standardize play prior to the 1919 season.

Spalding also manufactured these balls! Ca-ching! Ca-ching!

For an entertaining survey of the history of baseballs try Paul Seymour's BASEBALL: THE PEOPLE'S GAME. It is a 2 volume study of basebball's development from cricket to the live ball era.