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are strikeout pitchers today overrated?

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  • are strikeout pitchers today overrated?

    i was thinking about this earlier today. you got guys like adam dunn and ryan howard breaking strike out records since a lot of hitters mainly swing for the fences most time, so obviously that has a positive effect on pitchers, especially strikeout pitchers to inflate their totals. am i making sense here? does the many high strikeout players today like dunn, howard, sammy sosa, etc, make the high strikeout pitchers like johnson, pedro, clemens (putting roids aside for a second), schilling, etc, seem better then they actually are? hell if you simply look at the single season leaders in a stat like so/9ip you'll see that modern pitchers dominate the list.

  • #2
    This is a classic "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" Do today's sluggers strikeout a lot because the strikeout pitchers are better today? Or are today's strikeout pitchers able to pile up high strikeout totals because the modern slugger swings at everything and doesn't care if they strikeout 175 times? Also, the same type of argument can applied to Dead Ball pitchers. Almost all the 'endurance" records like GS, CG, and IP are pre-1920. Were all those Dead Ball pitchers supermen or did the dead ball environment allow them to have ridiculously high totals GS, CG, and IP? Another example is the top single season RBI totals. Since 1939 only one player (Manny Ramirez) has cracked the top 20 all-time. Almost all seasons of 160+ RBIs (17 of 21) come from the 1921-38 time frame. Every single 170+ RBI season is from this era as well.
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 03-12-2008, 12:25 PM.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
      This is a classic "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" Do today's sluggers strikeout a lot because the strikeout pitchers are better today? Or are today's strikeout pitchers able to pile up high strikeout totals because the modern slugger swings at everything and doesn't care if they strikeout 175 times? Also, the same type of argument can applied to Dead Ball pitchers. Almost all the 'endurance" records like GS, CG, and IP are pre-1920. Were all those Dead Ball pitchers supermen or did the dead ball environment allow them to have ridiculously high totals GS, CG, and IP? Another example is the top single season RBI totals. Since 1939 only one player (Manny Ramirez) has cracked the top 20 all-time. Almost all seasons of 160+ RBIs (17 of 21) come from the 1921-38 time frame. Every single 170+ RBI season is from this era as well.
      Let me say from the very start,it's not the only reason strikeouts are much higher but it's a big part of it, free swingers. I doubt anyone on the board will debate that going for the long ball...on average will produce more strikeouts.

      How far back are we going 1920s-1930s compared today, for sure there were far more contact hitters in those two decades compared to today or even the last 30 years and maybe further back
      As late as the early 1950's there were still some hitters who would choke up with two strikes in the 1920s even more common. Years ago most middle infielders were trying to get on and let the big guys hit them in, today many middle infielders are going for the long ball. At contract time when the player and the agent sit down with the club RBI's is one of the bigger bargaining chips. So I struck out 115 times, I batted in over 100+ the last four seasons.

      I haven't dug deep on this one, I'm sure there are other reasons.
      Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-12-2008, 02:33 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
        Another example is the top single season RBI totals. Since 1939 only one player (Manny Ramirez) has cracked the top 20 all-time. Almost all seasons of 160+ RBIs (17 of 21) come from the 1921-38 time frame. Every single 170+ RBI season is from this era as well.
        Manny would have reached higher if he got to play another 5-10 games that year, he could have seen 175 or so

        Sosa had 160 in 2001 and A-rod had 156 last year

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        • #5
          Originally posted by blackout805 View Post
          Manny would have reached higher if he got to play another 5-10 games that year, he could have seen 175 or so

          Sosa had 160 in 2001 and A-rod had 156 last year
          Extrapolatign out to 162 games, Manny would have driven in about 180 runs in 99'.

          But I'm with Adam- these seasons are outliers. With far fewer K's, much higher averages, and more guys on base, it was much easier to drive in huge totals in the 20's and 30's.

          And to answer the question, YES, today's strikeout pitchers are overrated. The HR/BB/K modality dominates today more than ever, and K's are no longer frowned upon.

          It makes Nolan Ryan's totals more impressive. He was gone and done before the expansion and steroid era was in full boom.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by blackout805 View Post
            Manny would have reached higher if he got to play another 5-10 games that year, he could have seen 175 or so

            Sosa had 160 in 2001 and A-rod had 156 last year
            What's even more amazing was that all high RBI seasons in the 1920s-30s came in shorter seasons.
            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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            • #7
              There is credence to the idea that high strikeout pitchers today are overrated.

              Having a blazing fastball tends to up the odds of making it in the majors and gives a guy an edge day in and day out. That's why I give the nod to a guy like Maddux (though he is way up on the K list) over others who can just burn it in there and make an out. The skill over force argument I guess.

              This is not to say that high strikeout pitchers have it any easier. They tend to throw a lot of pitches (especially in this era where batters are forcing up pitch counts), work hard on the mound and are (probably) more likely to blow out their arm.

              Having that killer fastball also puts them behind the learning curve - at times making them late bloomers when it comes to using other pitches effectively, control and inning management. Some guys like Daniel Cabrera have no clue about any other aspect of pitching except rearing back and heeving it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                Extrapolatign out to 162 games, Manny would have driven in about 180 runs in 99'.

                But I'm with Adam- these seasons are outliers. With far fewer K's, much higher averages, and more guys on base, it was much easier to drive in huge totals in the 20's and 30's.

                And to answer the question, YES, today's strikeout pitchers are overrated. The HR/BB/K modality dominates today more than ever, and K's are no longer frowned upon.

                It makes Nolan Ryan's totals more impressive. He was gone and done before the expansion and steroid era was in full boom.

                Exactly not to be overlooked when comparing RBI seasonal totals 1920s-1930s to todays game.

                Sure they hit a ton more home runs today but they also strike out far more per plate appearances and at bats.

                They were also hitting a ton more triples per game in the 1920s and 1930s. Triples that cleared the bases and put another runner 90 feet away from home. I also think back then there was more willingness of some hitters to move the runners over, closer to home.

                Didn't figure the average per game or per at bat but some cumulative numbers, triples.Of course it was the bigger parts but still a fact.

                Some 21 year periods 1920-1940 compared to 1985-2005.

                Triples-------------1920-1940------------1985-2005
                ---------------------22,996----------------18,583

                Thats 4413 more triples hit in that earlier period. Add to that there were only 16 teams back then and 154 game schedule. The difference per game or at bat is off the chart.

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                • #9
                  I think another factor is back in the 1920-30s teams had a "designated" power hitter, the guy expected to drive in runs. The hitters in front of him were expected to slap the ball and get on base. This created more RBI clusters for the RBI men. Today it's more like wall-to-wall power. Everyone is trying to hit HRS, even the lead off guy and #2 hitters. Someone like Alfonso Soriano would have never hit lead off in the 1930s.
                  Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                    I think another factor is back in the 1920-30s teams had a "designated" power hitter, the guy expected to drive in runs. The hitters in front of him were expected to slap the ball and get on base. This created more RBI clusters for the RBI men. Today it's more like wall-to-wall power. Everyone is trying to hit HRS, even the lead off guy and #2 hitters. Someone like Alfonso Soriano would have never hit lead off in the 1930s.
                    Thats also a factor in those RBI totals. I touched on that in an earlier post, the lighter hitters usually the middle infielders were in that position, move the runners leave it up to the bigger hitters to bring the runs home.

                    RBIs back then the job for some outfielders and some big first basemen to drive in. Today there are more middle infielders than back then doing some of that, swinging for the long ball also driving in the runs, it's spread out in todays game.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                      I think another factor is back in the 1920-30s teams had a "designated" power hitter, the guy expected to drive in runs. The hitters in front of him were expected to slap the ball and get on base.
                      Exactly. The slap guy that led off was Combs. Here's a guy that K'd 275 times in 6500 plate appearances, averaged 200 hits a year.

                      You know what Gehrig's greatest pride was? Not HR or average- it was his RBI. I read quotes in the Eig biography were Lou specifically stated that he felt his role was to drive in runs.

                      Unbeknownst to Lou, his ALS was depriving him of not only vital strength in 38', but also coordination to bear down in key situations. Joe McCarthy said he knew something was seriously wrong with Gehrig- way beyond a slump, when McCarthy chided Gehrig for just swinging with his arms and not getting his lower half into the ball (Gehrig was famous for his lower half power, and dipped so low his left knee nearly scraped the ground when he swung).

                      Gehrig responded that he "thought he might just try for average this year". That was all the evidence McCarthy needed. What really ate him up, though, was not driving in runs when it counted most to the team. He failed to lead the team in RBI for the first time in 10 seasons.

                      We know now that his gross and fine motor skills were forced to re-write themselves because his motor neurons were dying.

                      Considering the knowledge we now have of the the disease, we also now know that Gehrig's 1938 season, all of which was played after developing ALS, was one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the history of sports.
                      Last edited by csh19792001; 03-13-2008, 02:01 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                        Considering the knowledge we now have of the the disease, we also now know that Gehrig's 1938 season, all of which was played after developing ALS, was one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the history of sports.
                        Friekin' spot on brotha. Quote of the week :applaud::applaud:

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                          Today it's more like wall-to-wall power. Everyone is trying to hit HRS, even the lead off guy and #2 hitters. Someone like Alfonso Soriano would have never hit lead off in the 1930s.
                          Baseball has invited that style of play to draw the casual fan. They build amusement parks for stadiums where the the field action is secondary unless one is being launched. Who doesn't like to see home runs. We all do. They are fun to watch and even more fun to hit. But how much more special would they be if they really meant something. If baseball made some changes to the game, these non-typical power guys might be forced to stay within themselves and focus more on setting the table, taking the extra base, etc...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                            We know now that his gross and fine motor skills were forced to re-write themselves because his motor neurons were dying.

                            Considering the knowledge we now have of the the disease, we also now know that Gehrig's 1938 season, all of which was played after developing ALS, was one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the history of sports.

                            Lou was as tough inside as outside, not one to complain even near the end.
                            Don't recall the Yankee but he told a story about him, Lou and some others playing golf maybe in that year late 1938.

                            They were all wearing golf shoes that were cleated. Up to that time Lou had always wore cleated golf shoes, the last few times out he was wearing sneaker like shoes, no cleats. They later found out the reason why, that his soon to be fatal disease was advancing rapidly. His legs were weakened and when wearing the cleats they would catch on the grass because he was having a problem lifting his feet when walking.

                            A sad end to that story, great player and a great and humble man.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
                              Baseball has invited that style of play to draw the casual fan. They build amusement parks for stadiums where the the field action is secondary unless one is being launched. Who doesn't like to see home runs. We all do. They are fun to watch and even more fun to hit. But how much more special would they be if they really meant something. If baseball made some changes to the game, these non-typical power guys might be forced to stay within themselves and focus more on setting the table, taking the extra base, etc...
                              I agree 100%. I grew up watching baseball in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Back then you had your singles hitters, your base stealers, your doubles guys, and your HR hitters. Players like Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Dale Murphy, and Eric Davis were a pure pleasure to watch because they could do just about everything well.
                              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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