Great article, totally agreed. The little bit of baseball I've been able to watch live has really shown a different sport, but that could be some confirmation bias as well. It has felt different, with more multi-hit rallies and hard-hit balls that aren't always homeruns. Nice to see a bit of data that shows this too.
Interesting final bits about the strikeouts and how to handle those. I'm not sure if having a strikeout every inning on average is a good thing, as Stark points out, while Ks are somewhat exciting on TV or after the fact on some YouTube channel, live they're less so. The result can be exciting, and I certainly remember getting fired up watching Pedro mow down hitters and watching Ks hang in centerfield, but it's a millisecond event, and you're cheering after the fact. An exciting in-play event is exciting both during and after as you watch it develop.
How you can have fewer Ks without massive changes like moving back the mound or making the strike zone smaller is a difficult question. Maybe we hope averages improve with less launch angle and big swing emphasis, but as Williams argued, an uppercut makes sense from a contact standpoint too, you want to reverse the path of the ball as much as possible and to do that you need an uppercut swing. Perhaps advancements in batting and swing techniques can increase bat speeds to allow hitters to wait milliseconds longer. Regardless, I think it makes sense to play things out a few years and see what happens, the game is certainly improved. We gotta be nearing some sort of asymptote in terms of how much torque (asymptorque?) elbow ligaments can withstand before forearms are flying around the infield, so maybe it is just a matter of batters catching up?
That being said, it is improved due to drastic changes made this year, so maybe if strikeouts continue to be higher than we want, then maybe another drastic change like moving back the mound to slow down pitches and allow for more recognition time is in fact the answer.
In any case, it's been a good year for baseball so far. And it's only May.