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  • Current Era - Toughest on Pitchers?

    i was reading howard bryant's book and he noted how pitchers feel the deck is stacked against them since the strike in 1994 - i added a couple also - what do you think

    1) smaller ballparks
    2) pitching in denver
    3) video technology (esp. helpful to dh)
    4) harder bats - now maple soaked in lacquer
    5) shrinking strike zone
    6) lessening of freedom to intimidate hitters inside
    7) batters wearing body armor
    8) steroids taking hitters beyond their natural ability
    9) most hitters are now freeswingers
    10) size of major league hitters is rising - not just steroids - trend toward larger ss and 2b for example
    11) billy beane and others belief that defense runs a poor second to hitting ability - get a hitter and fit him in lineup - defense be damned
    12) era of the home run - concerted effort on behalf of baseball mgmt to increase offensive output to the detriment of pitchers - and with a complete deaf ear to their concerns
    13) harder, tighter wound baseball - tough to grip for curve
    14) concerted effort by baseball teachers to get batters to up pitch counts
    15) overreation of players and umpires to pitching inside - allows batters to encroach on plate and gain comfort in doing so

    i realize some of these factor aid both the pitcher and batter but it could probably be argued that the batters benefit more
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 03-11-2006, 01:52 PM.

  • #2
    I agree that a lot has happened, intentionally or not, that acts against the pitchers' ability to be truly effective. The miniature ballparks like those in Houston and Philadelphia are just silly; big ballparks like Comerica are ridiculed for being too big, and the fences are brought in to make it easier for the sluggers to show their stuff, when the teams should instead take advantage of thier big parks abd build teams that can truly play Baseball as it's meant to be played, with bunting and base-stealing and so on. (And yes, it does bug me that the Red Sox aren't a good small-ball team. Drives me NUTS.)

    Inside pitching has been almost eliminated because of the use of body armor, over-reaction by players and umps to occasional chin music, and the use of aluminum bats in college ball, which discourages development of real pitching (the bats don't break, so pitchers can't pitch in on the hands effectively, so they pitch away, so batters lean over the plate with their body armor on, further intimidating the pitchers. etc etc), which in turn encourages hitters to be free-swingers. It's all part and parcel of the same problem.

    And the strize zone -- it's not so much that it's small, as much as wildy inconsistent. Strike sones have always varied slightly from one umpire to another, but it seems to me that the strike zone now almost always varies from inning to inning and even pitch to pitch.(It's probably not the case; when something's done right, it's not so noticable as when it's wrong, so the weird strike zones seem to me more noticable...)
    --Annie
    Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)
    Remember Yellowdog
    ABNY

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    • #3
      Originally posted by VTSoxFan
      And the strize zone -- it's not so much that it's small, as much as wildy inconsistent. Strike sones have always varied slightly from one umpire to another, but it seems to me that the strike zone now almost always varies from inning to inning and even pitch to pitch.(It's probably not the case; when something's done right, it's not so noticable as when it's wrong, so the weird strike zones seem to me more noticable...)
      It may be inconsistent but the main fault is, it is too small, too low. Been watching this game for 40 years, I can tell you the strike zone was never as low as it is today. The upper half is supposed to be a point midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, thats the rule book. So how is that a pitch a bit above the uniform pants is seldom called a strike. This came into the game in the early 1990s, you got to love it if your a hitter.

      There was supposed to be an adjustment in the year 2001, a directive was sent out to the umps, to call the high one, the way it was done for a whole century. Like talking to a wall, it was raised very little still not close to the rule book.

      I recall watching a Yankee game early in the season, 2001. On one pitch to a batter the ball was a bit above the belt and was called a ball. Jim katt tuned to Bobby Murcer and brought up that issue, that what Selig called the "new strike zone" was to be in force this season, call the high one. "What was wrong with that pitch, looked like a strike" Katt said " well if thats the new strike zone than someone may hit 80 home run this year, Bonds was close.

      It's more than inconistent, it's a joke, way too low.
      Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-11-2006, 11:54 AM.

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      • #4
        What about the height of the pitching mound? Isn't it lower than what it used to be?

        Also, this might not be directly related to what you listed. But I think we see less quality pitching these days which result in stats that aren't as great because of the 5 man rotations and more teams. I'm not sure when in baseball history they went from a 3 man rotation to a 4 man to a 5 man rotation. But that means more pitchers are going to pitch makes more room for average pitchers. With more teams that just adds more pitchers in the league that should not be there. Think of this scenario. In 1991 there were 4 less teams than they are now. Well you take those 4 teams that have joined since and give each of them a 5 man rotation and thats 20 pitchers that would not be in the majors in 1991 that are in the bigs currently. Think about how different the ERA would be if you took the 20 worst pitchers in the league and threw them back to AAA. How much lower would the batting average be? Statistically it might not be that lower but I'm sure it would bring down every offensive category some.
        Last edited by DodgerBlue8188; 03-11-2006, 11:59 AM.

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        • #5
          Pretty complete list Mckenna.

          Only things I would add is the hitters comfort at the plate. The result of body armor, and of pitchers not being able to back hitters off the plate without a mele ensuing.

          And the ball. You mentioned the ball, but theres a small detail you could add. The logo on the ball. The circular logo that has never been more prominent, allows the hitter to pick up the rotation of the ball earlier than they normally would.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948

            Only things I would add is the hitters comfort at the plate. The result of body armor, and of pitchers not being able to back hitters off the plate without a mele ensuing.
            .
            good point - they're standing right on top of the plate

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            • #7
              My bad. Seems you did touch on that in #6.

              The logo on the ball though, is rarely mentioned, but does aid hitters more than you'd think.

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              • #8
                when did the logo thing start?

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                • #9
                  An intesting list, for sure. I've always thought of pitching as basically the ability to keep a hitter off balance. Basically, a pitcher has a few weapons to do this with....moving the ball around (up/down and in/out) and changing velocity/spin on the ball (fastball-curve-changeup, etc).

                  Between the ruckus made whenever a pitcher throws inside pitches (and I mean the inside corner, not chin music) and the effect of the aluminum bat from college (teaches both pitchers and hitters bad habits) pitchers tend to lose one part of that equation (in/out). Take away the high strike, and you've virtually cut the pitchers "bag of tricks" in half.

                  I mean, you don't see the old standby of fastball away, fastball inside, curve away nearly as much anymore, because guys are afraid to come inside.
                  Visit my card site at Mike D's Baseball Card Page.

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                  • #10
                    You make a good point, and i think that this may be the toughest era ever for pitchers, but i have a couple of nitpicks with your list.

                    9) most hitters are now freeswingers
                    First of all, i'm not sure this is true. Second, i think that would help pitchers by allowing them to expand the strike zone.

                    billy beane and others belief that defense runs a poor second to hitting ability - get a hitter and fit him in lineup - defense be damned
                    This could not be more untrue. One of the things Billy Beane has tagged as undervalued in the market (the whole moneyball theory) is defense, and that's why the A's had the best defense in the majors last year, and this year will have an outfield made up entirely of gold-glove caliber centerfielders (Bradley, Kotsay, Payton).

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                    • #11
                      This is most defiently is the toughest era for pitchers. And its going to last quite a while too. The parks are gonna be smaller because thats what the fans want. They dont want to see low scoring games alot anymore (I think the tight low scoring games are some of the most exciting). They want to see home runs, not fly outs. This is not going to change because the ballclubs want to make as much money as possible. Its a bit sad because some of the pitchers who are being clobbered today might of thrived in earlier years. But on the other hand some of the heavy hitters may of struggled years back too. But dont expect this hitters era to change anytime soon.
                      go sox.

                      Pigskin-Fever

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dasperp
                        You make a good point, and i think that this may be the toughest era ever for pitchers, but i have a couple of nitpicks with your list.



                        First of all, i'm not sure this is true. Second, i think that would help pitchers by allowing them to expand the strike zone.



                        This could not be more untrue. One of the things Billy Beane has tagged as undervalued in the market (the whole moneyball theory) is defense, and that's why the A's had the best defense in the majors last year, and this year will have an outfield made up entirely of gold-glove caliber centerfielders (Bradley, Kotsay, Payton).
                        i can agree with your point about free swingers - as i was typing it i was thinking that having lesser batting talents swing from the heals plays to the pitcher's advantage - i also think there are a lot more 20-hr guys than ever before - suggest to me that the goal is the home run and the contract that comes with it - few choke up anymore

                        quote from bryant's book "when he became gm, billy beane was asked if there was a single position in the lineup where defense came first. beane offered a one-word answer that would speak for the decade: "NO.""

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                        • #13
                          --Saying defense doesn't come first is not the same thing as saying defense isn't important. If you can't hit you can't play, but that doesn't mean you want 8 Giambi's playing the field.

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                          • #14
                            Pitchers have their benefits too, especially when it comes to modern medicine. They easily benefit f rom steroids just as much as hitters, if not more if you look at strikeout totals lastyear which decreased 5% while homeruns didnt decrease at all.

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                            • #15
                              I agree the game has obviously had an offensive era. Just looking at the stats will tell you that. Expansion can be thrown in the list also. I've always found it interesting that Jamie Moyer is so successful with apparantley below average 'stuff'....if he was 18 he probably wouldn't get signed by any major league team. I think too many pitchers pay too much attention to the radar gun when location and changing speeds are the keys to being successful.

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