Baseball Is Broken (on the field, proposed rule changes, attendance, etc.)

OCD SS

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Very interestingly, the other Rays RP who was in arbitration who also loss took his grievance public as well

Colin Poche ‘a little shocked’ to lose arbitration case, takes issue with panel not Rays (tampabay.com)

I guess my takeaway on it is that I'm surprised to see an MLB Franchise go to the process over like...100k. This feels like something that even if you handle it professionally as possible it's going to cause some strain. It may not be as important for players like Thompson or Poche but like, the Brewers had this with Corbin Burnes and it caused some real friction.
I think it's been proven that on the whole billionaire owners are not really interested in prioritizing relations with labor at the cost of money in their own pocket. I don't really see a way around the issue that isn't susceptible to gaming while also allowing players to have a say in/ negotiate for a higher salary.

I think if there's an issue to deal with it would be that MLB as a proxy for ownership chooses the judges, and MLB seems to have a fairly strong winning percentage when they go hearings. I think the players and union should be looking at having more of say in choosing the judges, I can't see why the hearings shouldn't result in more of a 50/50 split on results (and really given the WAR provided per $, it looks like the players deserve to come out ahead).
 

The Gray Eagle

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Posnanski article on the new rules:
https://www.esquire.com/sports/a43098257/fix-major-league-baseball-mlb/

In 1961, you could expect to see roughly ten strikeouts per game, counting both teams, along with seventeen or eighteen hits. Today, you’re likely to see seventeen strikeouts per game and sixteen hits. Games in 1961 lasted a little more than two and a half hours. In 2022, games on average lasted three hours and seven minutes.

In 1961, you were twice as likely to see a triple as today, a ball hit up the middle was a likely hit, teams carried ten pitchers, a 100 mph fastball was a unicorn, very few players worked out (lifting weights was supposed to hurt players’ flexibility), and the ability to bunt was treasured by managers.

None of that has been true of late. The number of triples has continued to fall. Balls hit up the middle are outs. Teams carry thirteen pitchers but would carry more if they were allowed. You see 100 mph fastballs in practically every game. Players work out obsessively. Few sacrifice bunt, and what managers hold dear doesn’t matter as much as it did.

That’s the thing that MLB did not anticipate: Keeping the rules the same did not prevent baseball from rapidly and substantially changing. It only prevented MLB from having any say in what those changes would look like.
MLB's Morgan Sword on the effect of the timer in the minors last year:
“The thing that to us was most remarkable,” Sword says, “is that it’s exactly the same amount of action in significantly less time. Teams were scoring the same number of runs. They were getting the same number of hits. If anything, strikeouts were down a little bit, so there were a few more balls in play. And it was all happening in about a half hour less time.

“That was every bit as important to us as the time. The game itself isn’t changing. The perception we were hearing again and again from fans and the players and even the grizzliest baseball personnel was that they loved the way the game felt. Everything felt crisper and more alive.”
Joey Votto approves:
While baseball executives do expect there to be a learning curve, they think that in time everybody will love the new pace. That was the minor-league experience. In week two of the pitch timer, games averaged 1.73 violations, which is way too many. By week five, though, that number had been cut in half. And by week twenty-one, there were fewer than 0.5 violations per game, similar to the number of delay-of-game penalties in the NFL.

“Players will adjust,” says Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto. “We’re athletes. We’re made to adapt. We will adapt. I actually don’t think it will take very long.”
On too many strikeouts and not enough balls in play:
For the past four or five years, there have been more strikeouts than hits. And MLB knows that has to be fixed.

“We know, as much as we can know anything, that the pitch clock will improve the pace of play,” Sword says. “Unfortunately, there’s no analogous fix on the strikeout. There’s no one thing that can just balance the scales. I believe it’s going to be through the cumulative impact of many small changes.”
Other possible changes that could be coming:
MLB is exploring everything—from new, tackier baseballs (to eliminate the need for the rosin bag) to baseballs with different-colored seams to restrictions on relief pitchers to automated strike zones to limiting the number of pitchers a team is allowed to carry on the roster.

It is perhaps this last one that is the most promising. In June of 2022, MLB did make a rule that teams could not carry more than thirteen pitchers. Over time, if the Players Association allows it, that number might be reduced, and with fewer pitchers, you would have fewer relievers and perhaps a better balance in the game. But it would certainly create a fight.
Personally, I'd like to see the number of pitchers per team drop to 12 next year, and then a couple years later, down to 11. That would eventually lead to starting pitchers throwing deeper in games, fewer pitching changes, and fewer relievers. I would like all those changes if they happened gradually and fairly.

As an added bonus, maybe smart teams would even start developing knuckleballers again, since having a guy who can throw as long and as often as a knuckleballer as the last man in your bullpen would be an advantage.
 

dhappy42

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Oct 27, 2013
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From the Esquire article:
While everybody around baseball is bullish about these changes making the game more vibrant and fun to watch, they all concede that baseball’s biggest problem—the dominance of pitching and the lack of balls in play—will still need to be dealt with over the next few years.
So why not simply move the pitching rubber back three feet (to the midpoint between home and second base)?
 

LogansDad

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From the Esquire article:

So why not simply move the pitching rubber back three feet (to the midpoint between home and second base)?
1) I think the current rules changes are going to do more for this than the Esquire article thinks.

2) Honest question, no snark: What affect do you think moving the mound back in that way would have?
 

dhappy42

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1) I think the current rules changes are going to do more for this than the Esquire article thinks.

2) Honest question, no snark: What affect do you think moving the mound back in that way would have?
More batted balls in play. Fewer strikeouts. If batters have a split-second more time to react, 100 mph fastballs and breaking balls will be easier to hit.

In a way, it’d be a return to the old days when hardly anyone threw 100mph and when pitchers were, on average, shorter. (Taller pitchers reduce the release-point distance to home plate. )
 

LogansDad

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I agree that it would reduce strikeouts, but I am not sure it would increase balls in play, as I think there would be a huge increase in home runs if they did that. I do not have scientific evidence to back this up.

I do think you will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of balls in play this season, though, if spring training is your first time watching games with a pitch clock.
 

JM3

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1) I think the current rules changes are going to do more for this than the Esquire article thinks.

2) Honest question, no snark: What affect do you think moving the mound back in that way would have?
This is a pretty thorough analysis, albeit full of assumptions...

https://community.fangraphs.com/what-if-the-mound-was-moved-back/

Assuming no changes in batter and pitcher behavior, and using pitch tracking data from the 2020 season, the changes expected when moving the mound back are that there will be:

  • Lower effective pitch velocity (1-3 mph per foot of mound movement)
  • More contact (0.7-1.6% per foot of mound movement)
  • More balls in play on contact (1-2% per foot of mound movement)
  • A higher run-scoring environment (0.15-0.4 runs per game per foot of mound movement)
  • Less swings (0.5% lower swing rate per foot of mound movement)
The Atlantic League test of moving the mound back 1 foot was inconclusive...

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/33059011/atlantic-league-ends-trials-61-foot-mounds-robo-umps-balls-strikes
 

dhappy42

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This is a pretty thorough analysis, albeit full of assumptions...

https://community.fangraphs.com/what-if-the-mound-was-moved-back/



The Atlantic League test of moving the mound back 1 foot was inconclusive...

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/33059011/atlantic-league-ends-trials-61-foot-mounds-robo-umps-balls-strikes
Thanks for the Fangraphs article. As for the Atlantic League trial — moving the rubber back one foot — being inconclusive, that doesn’t surprise me. One foot is not enough to make a very noticeable difference. Three feet would be significant.

Another thing I’ve noticed watching old games is that batters were more free swinging than now. Maybe moving the mound back three feet and widening the strike zone an inch would generate more swings and contact.
 

LogansDad

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This is a pretty thorough analysis, albeit full of assumptions...

https://community.fangraphs.com/what-if-the-mound-was-moved-back/



The Atlantic League test of moving the mound back 1 foot was inconclusive...

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/33059011/atlantic-league-ends-trials-61-foot-mounds-robo-umps-balls-strikes
Thank you for posting that, I vaguely remember reading it when it first came out in 2021, but most of the information had been forgotten to me.

One thing that they mention, but don't really discuss, is the likelihood of injury. I don't think that the longer distance itself increases the likeliness of injury for the pitchers, but I do wonder how much of an affect a change in release point might have, especially for pitchers who throw primarily breaking balls. These guys are like machines, and I feel like (again, I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but I am taking a Physics II class right now, which is really hard as a 43 year old), changing the location that their shoulder/elbow releases the ball from could have unintended consequences.

This is not to say that they should throw out the idea, just that I hope (and expect) that they will make sure that they do it in the best way possible.
 

InstaFace

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I would think that accurately aiming at the strike zone from 3 feet farther away, while throwing as hard as they do now, would involve releasing it something on the order of a quarter of a degree of arc farther up. Fastballs today take ~400ms to reach the plate; if that goes up 5% to 420ms (60' to 63', give or take) the amount of extra falling a pitch does in those 20ms (going from 0.4" of freefall to 0.42", beep boop) is about an extra 3 inches. To aim 3 inches higher at something 63' away, you aim... (beep boop) yeah about 0.23 degrees of difference. I think the pitchers will adjust without much impact to their mechanics or risk thereof.

Another way to think about it might be, it takes ~5% off of everyone's pitch speed. 100mph fastballs now look like 95mph ones used to. 80mph curves now look like 76mph curves. Small changes, perhaps, but they add up to enough over the course of a season.
 

LogansDad

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I would think that accurately aiming at the strike zone from 3 feet farther away, while throwing as hard as they do now, would involve releasing it something on the order of a quarter of a degree of arc farther up. Fastballs today take ~400ms to reach the plate; if that goes up 5% to 420ms (60' to 63', give or take) the amount of extra falling a pitch does in those 20ms (going from 0.4" of freefall to 0.42", beep boop) is about an extra 3 inches. To aim 3 inches higher at something 63' away, you aim... (beep boop) yeah about 0.23 degrees of difference. I think the pitchers will adjust without much impact to their mechanics or risk thereof.

Another way to think about it might be, it takes ~5% off of everyone's pitch speed. 100mph fastballs now look like 95mph ones used to. 80mph curves now look like 76mph curves. Small changes, perhaps, but they add up to enough over the course of a season.
Fair enough, thank you for the response.
 

allmanbro

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I think if you move the mound back, you have to deaden the ball. There might be some sweet spot there for balls in play, but also balanced offense. It would likely take significant tinkering in indy/MiLB to find.

The Posnanski article mentions different colored seams on the baseballs. This is the first I have heard of that - what could that be about? Making spin more visible?
 

simplicio

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That’s what it SHOULD mean, but knowing MLB like I do, I expect they will be in Collectible Team Colors, with special Military and Holiday releases.
Pitchers around baseball have been overheard begging their managers to get the Veterans Day start with the new camo ball.
 

allmanbro

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That’s what it SHOULD mean, but knowing MLB like I do, I expect they will be in Collectible Team Colors, with special Military and Holiday releases.
Posnanski lists it with a bunch of things clearly related to actual play - so I am giving him the benefit of the doubt, not MLB, in thinking there might be something there.

Unfortunately, you are probably right.

Edit: google is mostly failing me, but this fangraphs article from 2016 at least talks about color vision and spin.
 
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Awesome Fossum

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Personally, I'd like to see the number of pitchers per team drop to 12 next year, and then a couple years later, down to 11. That would eventually lead to starting pitchers throwing deeper in games, fewer pitching changes, and fewer relievers. I would like all those changes if they happened gradually and fairly.
Totally agree. Also throwing deeper means throwing less hard, which means more balls in play.

Feels impossible from a collective bargaining standpoint, since reducing the roster cuts jobs. Maybe it can be done in conjunction with an expansion to 32 teams?
 

The Gray Eagle

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It shouldn't be a roster reduction though-- they keep a 26-man roster, so one less pitcher with a job should mean one more position player with a job.
 

Max Power

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Either way it's going to be a minimum salary player, so it may not make much difference to the union.

An extra position player or two would give managers more options. You could have more pinch runners and defensive replacements than you've seen recently. I wonder if Dave Roberts even makes the roster in 2004 if the game were played the same way as it is today. I know for sure Mueller's single would have been a routine out with Jeter positioned directly behind the bag.
 

JM3

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Either way it's going to be a minimum salary player, so it may not make much difference to the union.

An extra position player or two would give managers more options. You could have more pinch runners and defensive replacements than you've seen recently. I wonder if Dave Roberts even makes the roster in 2004 if the game were played the same way as it is today. I know for sure Mueller's single would have been a routine out with Jeter positioned directly behind the bag.
I'm pretty sure he gets the 4th OF job over Gabe Kapler & his 77 OPS+ in today's game.
 

JM3

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Are there limits on the number of pitchers on a roster now?
The 13-pitcher limit originally was announced by MLB before the 2020 season, one of several changes that included expanding active rosters by one to 26 and requiring pitchers to face at least three batters or finish a half-inning. But the limit has been pushed back repeatedly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MLB and the union said March 31 that a 13-pitcher limit would be enforced starting May 2, then on April 16 announced the date had been pushed back to May 30. They said last month that the change would go into effect June 20, and MLB sent out a reminder last week.
https://www.sportsnet.ca/mlb/article/mlb-moving-forward-with-long-delayed-13-pitcher-limit/
 

simplicio

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I'm going with small sample size on that one. Currently 2/3 of our LHB are hitting over .360. Much as I'd love Verdugo to maintain a .700 avg over the course of the season, I expect things will level out a little.
 

JM3

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I'm going with small sample size on that one. Currently 2/3 of our LHB are hitting over .360. Much as I'd love Verdugo to maintain a .700 avg over the course of the season, I expect things will level out a little.
That's all of MLB, not just the Red Sox. So I think around 200 games worth of hitting stats. Don't think Verdugo being 5 of 7 is making a huge impact on that.
 

simplicio

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That's all of MLB, not just the Red Sox. So I think around 200 games worth of hitting stats. Don't think Verdugo being 5 of 7 is making a huge impact on that.
Yes, but it's also the first week of spring training, with many infielders playing without a shift probably for the first time in their careers, and a big chunk of that baseball being played by minor league guys. The numbers are going to be skewed.
 

jon abbey

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Yes, but it's also the first week of spring training, with many infielders playing without a shift probably for the first time in their careers, and a big chunk of that baseball being played by minor league guys. The numbers are going to be skewed.
Maybe but also I'm pretty sure that BABIP was decidedly higher for LHH than RHH before drastic shifts started in recent years, so it makes sense that things would largely revert to that previous state.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Well, you would want to compare the first week of ST BABIP to previous first weeks of ST, pre-rules change. Without context, it’s hard to know what to make of the numbers.
 

Humphrey

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LOL. I think Gallo is one of maybe, what, less than 5 guys in the league who teams would do this against, though? He's kind of a unicorn.
In addition to no left fielder, the center fielder is playing incredibly shallow.
 

The_Dali

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Reducing the number of pitchers from 13 to 12 or 11 would be a huge win imo. If mlb wants increased scoring and action and less dominant pitching they need to make it harder for teams to cycle new pitchers every four batters.

Plus, more position players allows for pinch hitting, running, etc. and would allow teams to rest guys more. Love it.
 

Toe Nash

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Reducing the number of pitchers from 13 to 12 or 11 would be a huge win imo. If mlb wants increased scoring and action and less dominant pitching they need to make it harder for teams to cycle new pitchers every four batters.

Plus, more position players allows for pinch hitting, running, etc. and would allow teams to rest guys more. Love it.
This seems like a great way to increase the number of pitching injuries, not to increase offense. Relievers are going to pitch as hard as they can while they're in there so having fewer guys in the pen is just going to make them pitch while they're fatigued. Or, it will increase the interest in guys with options who can go back and forth between AAA and the majors.

As I said last page, let the GMs and managers make these strategic decisions. Any change in response to certain trends in the game will likely have unintended consequences.
 

jon abbey

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Yeah, I agree that teams should have more position players but the way to do that is 28 man rosters.
 

Ale Xander

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I find that the worst thing about baseball is mid-inning pitching replacements. I would looooove to cut down on mound warmup pitches or fewer pitchers on active roster.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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I love the universal DH, but it killed the biggest reason for pinch-hitting. I don't think redistributing roster positions would start any pinch-hitting renaissance — pinch-hitting for position players is trickier because it means using someone who can either stay in and play a position (in which case, the better players are usually the ones already in the game), or it means burning through another bench player to replace the pinch-hitter. I don't think coaching staffs or front offices would be interested in exchanging pitchers for position players.
 

Max Power

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This seems like a great way to increase the number of pitching injuries, not to increase offense. Relievers are going to pitch as hard as they can while they're in there so having fewer guys in the pen is just going to make them pitch while they're fatigued. Or, it will increase the interest in guys with options who can go back and forth between AAA and the majors.
The whole idea is that pitchers who have any sense of self preservation will no longer throw as hard as they possibly can. MLB tried to decrease pitcher injuries by increasing roster sizes, but that didn't work at all. Pitchers just throw harder than ever for shorter outings and all blow out their elbows. A 13 man staff isn't keeping anyone healthier and has just resulted in more strikeouts than hits for the first time in history.
 

Toe Nash

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The whole idea is that pitchers who have any sense of self preservation will no longer throw as hard as they possibly can. MLB tried to decrease pitcher injuries by increasing roster sizes, but that didn't work at all. Pitchers just throw harder than ever for shorter outings and all blow out their elbows. A 13 man staff isn't keeping anyone healthier and has just resulted in more strikeouts than hits for the first time in history.
Well, if you don't throw as hard as you can you give up dingers and lose your job, especially if you're a reliever who is very replaceable. So self-preservation means getting outs when your manager puts you in, however you know how.

I don't see much reason to believe that limiting to 11 or 12 pitchers would be better for injuries or the game in general. The reason you need more pitchers is that starters don't go deep into games anymore and the reason they don't is because teams have figured out that most pitchers pitch worse if they face more than 18 batters. Maybe more teams would employ a swingman kind of pitcher who can sop up innings but they would largely come in when the game isn't close. Or maybe teams would try to steal outs with their starters going through the order a third time, but there would be unintended consequences there too.

Also, the strikeouts are partially due to batters' approaches as well.
 

Max Power

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Well, if you don't throw as hard as you can you give up dingers and lose your job, especially if you're a reliever who is very replaceable. So self-preservation means getting outs when your manager puts you in, however you know how.

I don't see much reason to believe that limiting to 11 or 12 pitchers would be better for injuries or the game in general. The reason you need more pitchers is that starters don't go deep into games anymore and the reason they don't is because teams have figured out that most pitchers pitch worse if they face more than 18 batters. Maybe more teams would employ a swingman kind of pitcher who can sop up innings but they would largely come in when the game isn't close. Or maybe teams would try to steal outs with their starters going through the order a third time, but there would be unintended consequences there too.

Also, the strikeouts are partially due to batters' approaches as well.
If you like the high strikeout, low contact game as it is now, then you wouldn't think limiting pitchers is better for the game in general. I prefer a game where hitters have a better chance of getting a hit than striking out. Putting rules in place that force teams to use starters for more innings and use fewer relievers at max effort seems like a good way to do it.
 

Comfortably Lomb

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Our focus is generally on professional baseball but in case anyone is wondering how ball-strike calls are going in college sports, here's this chickenshit umpire ringing a batter up on a pitch several feet outside the strike zone because he was shown up on the previous pitch (the ump blew that call too):

 

canderson

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Very smart action by the catcher - good on him. I’d toss the hitter for doing that before screwing him on a strikezone like that if I were an ump I think.
 

SoxJox

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Wasn't sure where to put this...but a summary of game durations for Day 1.

* Average game was played in 2:44.

* 10/15 were played in less than 3 hours. (9/10 under 2:45).

* 5 shutouts certainly helped speed things up. But also, lots of pitchers (and mid-inning changes) are used this early in the season. Once that declines, almost every game should be 2:45 or less.
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