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  • Rule Changes by the Numbers

    Some time ago there existed a thread polling which rule change we believed to be the biggest in MLB history. I can't dig it up. Good luck to anyone who tries and wants to merge this with that one.

    Pinpointing the biggest rule change in ML baseball is difficult. A lot of good arguments can be made for so many changes. I've selected some of the larger ones and devised the most chaotic according to numbers. Changes may take some time to be implemented. Plus, they need time to resonate. I separated the changes in two ways: immediate (differences in numbers from the year before the rule change and the year implemented) and distal (differences in numbers the three-year average before and after the change). Any rules not encompassing the entire MLB are noted (it's always possible that I've screwed up in this when it comes to the 19th century; I'm not entirely sure which rules the AA adopted).

    1884: All pitching delivery restrictions were removed and bases on balls reduced to six called balls. HBP recorded.
    1887: Batters no longer call for high or low balls, five balls constitute a walk, four strikes instead of three (this season only), BB counts as a hit (this season only). Though significant, I exclude this season because of obvious differences in game scoring.
    1889: BB becomes the modern four balls and the sacrifice bunt is recognized. For distal difference, the three-year span prior will 1885, 1886, 1888.
    1893: Bat must be wholly round and made of wood, sacrifice hits no longer count as an AB, and the mound distance is increased from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches.
    1904: Mound height set at 15 inches. This rule is not included because it was not always practiced.
    1920: Doctoring the ball is outlawed, game balls must be periodically replaced. Though not an official rule, the de facto practice of swinging for power begins, helped by the introduction of a livelier ball.
    1969: The pitching mound height is reduced from 15 to 10 inches. Also reduced is the strike zone, now shrunken to the area from the armpits to the top of the batter's knees.
    1973: American league adopts the DH

    Distal Changes
    Code:
    	R/G	G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	BB	AVG	OBP	SLG
    1881-83	5.48	3386	123688	18550	31503	5177	1874	492	4948	0.255	0.283	0.339
    1884-86	5.39	6972	244964	37546	59872	8892	3657	1425	14031	0.244	0.288	0.328
    change	-0.09									-0.011	+0.005	-0.011
    												
    1885-88*	5.18	6068	211090	31432	51279	7323	3174	1257	13811	0.243	0.294	0.326
    1889-91	5.90	7614	267153	44951	69285	9841	4243	2012	27052	0.259	0.334	0.351
    change	+0.72									+.016	+.040	+.025
    												
    1890-92	5.68	7276	254551	41353	64758	8833	4170	1762	25914	0.254	0.330	0.343
    1893-95	6.85	4766	171264	32625	50549	7365	3344	1577	17131	0.295	0.366	0.405
    change	+1.17									+.041	+.036	+.062
    												
    1917-19	3.70	6762	224041	24999	57100	8154	3071	1017	18641	0.255	0.317	0.332
    1920-22	4.69	7401	254697	34746	72670	11534	3877	2622	20920	0.285	0.344	0.392
    change	+0.99									+.030	+.027	+.060
    												
    1966-68	3.73	9720	327294	36219	79381	12071	2309	7037	28,152	0.243	0.305	0.358
    1969-71	4.10	11656	393971	47803	98683	15006	2584	9411	39,692	0.250	0.321	0.373
    change	+0.37									+.007	+.016	+.015
    												
    70-72 AL	3.84	5736	192028	22022	47112	7178	1040	4405	19,027	0.245	0.315	0.362
    73-75 AL	4.22	5816	197691	24571	51116	7850	1233	4386	19,454	0.259	0.326	0.377
    change	+0.38									+.014	+.011	+.015
    Immediate
    Code:
    	R/G	G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	BB	AVG	OBP	SLG
    1883	5.75	1570	57670	9030	14828	2487	946	238	2326	0.257	0.286	0.345
    1884	5.42	3088	109312	16742	26593	4020	1537	689	4947	0.243	0.279	0.327
    change	-0.33									-0.014	-0.007	-0.018
    												
    1888	4.87	2184	75438	10628	18000	2451	1054	521	4727	0.239	0.291	0.320
    1889	5.96	2180	76478	12986	20170	3015	1083	667	7,316	0.264	0.334	0.358
    change	+1.09									+.025	+.043	+.038
    												
    1892	5.10	1842	63876	9388	15643	2007	1010	417	6,178	0.245	0.317	0.328
    1893	6.57	1570	56898	10315	15913	2197	1047	460	6,143	0.280	0.356	0.379
    change	+1.47									+.035	+.039	+.051
    												
    1919	3.88	2236	74671	8668	19624	2922	1048	447	5,982	0.263	0.322	0.348
    1920	4.36	2468	84179	10761	23275	3609	1265	630	6,820	0.276	0.335	0.372
    change	+.48									+.013	+.013	+.024
    												
    1968	3.42	3250	108622	11109	25710	3869	697	1995	9,156	0.237	0.299	0.340
    1969	4.07	3892	131287	15850	32581	4840	849	3119	13,429	0.248	0.320	0.369
    change	+.65									+.011	+.021	+.029
    												
    1972 AL	3.47	1858	61712	6441	14751	2260	316	1175	5,742	0.239	0.306	0.343
    1973 AL	4.28	1944	66276	8314	17193	2624	404	1552	6,647	0.259	0.328	0.381
    change	+.81									+.020	+.022	+.038
    For the sake of room, I excluded PA, RBI, K, HBP, and SF. If they were recorded, HBP and SF are applied to OBP. They simply aren't shown. I did not do pitching tables because they will obviously suffer or benefit whenever hitting suffers or benefits.

    I thought the largest changes would be those in 1969. Looks like the biggest changes were those invoked in 1893. Offense swells greatly, mostly in part to the 1893 change of the mound distance. The only major changes to help pitching (that I listed) are the 1884 ones, which removed all delivery restrictions and ended the practice of calling for low and high balls. Distally, everything but OBP suffers. This is because HBP were recorded in 1884, so batters gained the benefit of increasing OBP without the penalties of SF.
    Last edited by Tyrus4189Cobb; 10-07-2012, 10:10 AM.
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

  • #2
    Originally posted by Tyrus4189Cobb View Post
    Some time ago there existed a thread polling which rule change we believed to be the biggest in MLB history. I can't dig it up. Good luck to anyone who tries and wants to merge this with that one.

    Pinpointing the biggest rule change in ML baseball is difficult. A lot of good arguments can be made for so many changes. I've selected some of the larger ones and devised the most chaotic according to numbers. Changes may take some time to be implemented. Plus, they need time to resonate. I separated the changes in two ways: immediate (differences in numbers from the year before the rule change and the year implemented) and distal (differences in numbers the three-year average before and after the change). Any rules not encompassing the entire MLB are noted (it's always possible that I've screwed up in this when it comes to the 19th century; I'm not entirely sure which rules the AA adopted).

    1884: All pitching delivery restrictions were removed and bases on balls reduced to six called balls. HBP recorded.
    1887: Batters no longer call for high or low balls, five balls constitute a walk, four strikes instead of three (this season only), BB counts as a hit (this season only). Though significant, I exclude this season because of obvious differences in game scoring.
    1889: BB becomes the modern four balls and the sacrifice bunt is recognized. For distal difference, the three-year span prior will 1885, 1886, 1888.
    1893: Bat must be wholly round and made of wood, sacrifice hits no longer count as an AB, and the mound distance is increased from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches.
    1904: Mound height set at 15 inches. This rule is not included because it was not always practiced.
    1920: Doctoring the ball is outlawed, game balls must be periodically replaced. Though not an official rule, the de facto practice of swinging for power begins, helped by the introduction of a livelier ball.
    1969: The pitching mound height is reduced from 15 to 10 inches. Also reduced is the strike zone, now shrunken to the area from the armpits to the top of the batter's knees.
    1973: American league adopts the DH

    Distal Changes
    Code:
    	R/G	G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	BB	AVG	OBP	SLG
    1881-83	5.48	3386	123688	18550	31503	5177	1874	492	4948	0.255	0.283	0.339
    1884-86	5.39	6972	244964	37546	59872	8892	3657	1425	14031	0.244	0.288	0.328
    change	-0.09									-0.011	+0.005	-0.011
    												
    1885-88*	5.18	6068	211090	31432	51279	7323	3174	1257	13811	0.243	0.294	0.326
    1889-91	5.90	7614	267153	44951	69285	9841	4243	2012	27052	0.259	0.334	0.351
    change	+0.72									+.016	+.040	+.025
    												
    1890-92	5.68	7276	254551	41353	64758	8833	4170	1762	25914	0.254	0.330	0.343
    1893-95	6.85	4766	171264	32625	50549	7365	3344	1577	17131	0.295	0.366	0.405
    change	+1.17									+.041	+.036	+.062
    												
    1917-19	3.70	6762	224041	24999	57100	8154	3071	1017	18641	0.255	0.317	0.332
    1920-22	4.69	7401	254697	34746	72670	11534	3877	2622	20920	0.285	0.344	0.392
    change	+0.99									+.030	+.027	+.060
    												
    1966-68	3.73	9720	327294	36219	79381	12071	2309	7037	28,152	0.243	0.305	0.358
    1969-71	4.10	11656	393971	47803	98683	15006	2584	9411	39,692	0.250	0.321	0.373
    change	+0.37									+.007	+.016	+.015
    												
    70-72 AL	3.84	5736	192028	22022	47112	7178	1040	4405	19,027	0.245	0.315	0.362
    73-75 AL	4.22	5816	197691	24571	51116	7850	1233	4386	19,454	0.259	0.326	0.377
    change	+0.38									+.014	+.011	+.015
    Immediate
    Code:
    	R/G	G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	BB	AVG	OBP	SLG
    1883	5.75	1570	57670	9030	14828	2487	946	238	2326	0.257	0.286	0.345
    1884	5.42	3088	109312	16742	26593	4020	1537	689	4947	0.243	0.279	0.327
    change	-0.33									-0.014	-0.007	-0.018
    												
    1888	4.87	2184	75438	10628	18000	2451	1054	521	4727	0.239	0.291	0.320
    1889	5.96	2180	76478	12986	20170	3015	1083	667	7,316	0.264	0.334	0.358
    change	+1.09									+.025	+.043	+.038
    												
    1892	5.10	1842	63876	9388	15643	2007	1010	417	6,178	0.245	0.317	0.328
    1893	6.57	1570	56898	10315	15913	2197	1047	460	6,143	0.280	0.356	0.379
    change	+1.47									+.035	+.039	+.051
    												
    1919	3.88	2236	74671	8668	19624	2922	1048	447	5,982	0.263	0.322	0.348
    1920	4.36	2468	84179	10761	23275	3609	1265	630	6,820	0.276	0.335	0.372
    change	+.48									+.013	+.013	+.024
    												
    1968	3.42	3250	108622	11109	25710	3869	697	1995	9,156	0.237	0.299	0.340
    1969	4.07	3892	131287	15850	32581	4840	849	3119	13,429	0.248	0.320	0.369
    change	+.65									+.011	+.021	+.029
    												
    1972 AL	3.47	1858	61712	6441	14751	2260	316	1175	5,742	0.239	0.306	0.343
    1973 AL	4.28	1944	66276	8314	17193	2624	404	1552	6,647	0.259	0.328	0.381
    change	+.81									+.020	+.022	+.038
    For the sake of room, I excluded PA, RBI, K, HBP, and SF. If they were recorded, HBP and SF are applied to OBP. They simply aren't shown. I did not do pitching tables because they will obviously suffer or benefit whenever hitting suffers or benefits.

    I thought the largest changes would be those in 1969. Looks like the biggest changes were those invoked in 1893. Offense swells greatly, mostly in part to the 1893 change of the mound distance. The only major changes to help pitching (that I listed) are the 1884 ones, which removed all delivery restrictions and ended the practice of calling for low and high balls. Distally, everything but OBP suffers. This is because HBP were recorded in 1884, so batters gained the benefit of increasing OBP without the penalties of SF.
    Hey Tyrus...many rule changes throughout the years. I believe the one that had the largest impact during it's previous present time and in relation to how the game evolved, was the outlawing of "trick pitches". The Chapman beaning and killing by Mays (who claims to have thrown a curveball) was the launching off point for the rule changes. But that was the biggest change imo. Now a clean, fully visible ball with more pop was in play at all times.

    Comment


    • #3
      http://www.baseball-fever.com/showth...t=rule+changes

      Comment


      • #4
        For me, outlawing the doctored ball in 1920 coupled with increased replacing of game balls might have changed the game more than the others combined.

        How many million pitches have been thrown since 1920? You can bet the pitchers would be doctoring balls left and right were it allowed. The most common event in baseball, pitched delivering to a batter, would be very very different than we know it.
        Last edited by StanTheMan; 10-10-2012, 06:58 PM.
        "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

        Comment


        • #5
          I didn't mean to imply that the 1920 changes weren't the greatest. Going solely by the numbers, it is the decision to increase the pitching distance.

          Of all the de facto changes, some to consider:
          1920: players going more for the power game
          1970s/1980s:increased use of relief pitching
          1990s-present: pitching specialization
          early 2000s(?)-present: pitch counts
          1970s: free agency
          late 1980s-early 2000s: rampant PED use
          1947-present: integration- picking from pool of Black, Latino, Japanese players
          1961-present: team expansion
          "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

          Comment

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