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Verducci on walking our way to a lamer game


machadoschoop

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Always nice to Verducci write about something in his big-picture wheelhouse, rather than offering lame commentary on what teams are doing game-to-game: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130423/joey-votto-jayson-werth-taking-pitches/?sct=uk_wr_a1

Basically, Verducci breaks down how the emphasis on elevating starters' pitch counts, looking for the walk regardless of the situation, and overall passive approach at the plate is actually raising strikeout totals and denying more excitement from the game.

I wish he had gone into the overall impact on offense (runs scored), which may tell a different story. Overall, it feels like half of a really good Fangraphs article, but it is worth the read.

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I'm not sure I understand his point. He even says in the piece that walks have been declining for years. We're currently at just over 3.0 walks a game, while the all-time high was set in '49-50 when there were over 4.0 per game.

I suppose he's saying he wants a more contact-oriented game, which I don't really disagree with. Verducci would really have hated Ed Yost, Eddie Stanky, Ed Joost, and Ed Robinson, who's only real skills were to draw 100 walks a year. That was 60 years ago.

There are long-term, deep-seated historical trends and forces driving ever more strikeouts. For pitchers strikeouts are better than anything else - the most successful pitchers are the ones who strike out the most batters (while maintaining decent rates of walks and homers). For hitters, somewhat paradoxically, strikeouts just don't matter since they're positively correlated with power and walks, and therefore teams that strike out more tend to score more runs.So until someone figures out a way to disincentivize strikeouts you're not going to reverse these trends. One way might be to put the strikezone back to the shoulders or armpits. Then guys like Mark Reynolds would be driven out of the league, presumably replaced with more contact-oriented hitters. But that might have all kinds of negative ripple effects, like driving run scoring way down.

Another thing might be to make bats conform to minimum size requirements substantially larger than what's commonly used today. Force players to use thicker-handled, heavier bats and they'll have to abandon or cut back on the race to ever more bat speed.

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I guess I don't understand what's not exciting about a strikeout? Is a ground out to second base more exciting than a 3-2 curveball that freezes up the batter or the batter swings over? I guess different strokes for different folks, but I like the strikeout. To me, the strike zone needs to be officially the top of the belt to the bottom of the knees. Strikes should be called on the black on bother sides of the plate.

I'm not against a "contact-oriented" game I guess, but I like the K's and I like the guys that can work a walk. I guess I just enjoy the batter-pitcher matchup more than others.

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He's been saying basically the same thing on MLB network for quite awhile now. The basic gist is the game/strike zone has shifted to the pitcher's advantage and the dynamics of taking pitches (working pitch counts/walks etc.) is working for the pitcher and not the batter/offense. I don't think it has anything to do with what he wants to see, he's just saying that hitters have to take a more aggressive approach than they have in the past in order to increase the probability of scoring more runs. He's touched on some of the analytics, but it's obviously a fairly complicated issue.

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Always nice to Verducci write about something in his big-picture wheelhouse, rather than offering lame commentary on what teams are doing game-to-game: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130423/joey-votto-jayson-werth-taking-pitches/?sct=uk_wr_a1

Basically, Verducci breaks down how the emphasis on elevating starters' pitch counts, looking for the walk regardless of the situation, and overall passive approach at the plate is actually raising strikeout totals and denying more excitement from the game.

I wish he had gone into the overall impact on offense (runs scored), which may tell a different story. Overall, it feels like half of a really good Fangraphs article, but it is worth the read.

I couldn't find anything about Verducci making a case for the game being lamer or providing less excitement from strikeouts in the article., I also couldn't find "walking our way to a lamer game" in the article as well. Could you point out where you got that from? The title of the article is "Virtue,and victory, no longer synonymous with patience at the plate". Specifically, the entire article/analysis (that I can see) is about teams needing to swing the bat more to improve offensive production. Now I may have some issues with scope of the analysis, but your framing of the article seems pretty far off.

Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130423/joey-votto-jayson-werth-taking-pitches/#ixzz2RQAF0Ji2

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Pretty poor article in my opinion. I like Verducci, but he just sounds like one of those overly nostalgic people who can't shut up about how much better "things" were when they were younger. I've heard plenty of geezers complaining about how the game is all about instant excitement today and how they don't play smart baseball

Walk rates aren't even high right now. If anything, they're a pinch lower than they were in the 50s or 60s.

BB%:

2010-2012: 8.2%

1960-1962: 8.9%

K%

2010-2012: 18.6%

1960-1962: 13.8%

SLG%

2010-2012: .402

1960-1962: .394

So just looking at a brief sample of the last 3 years and 50 years ago, walks aren't particularly different, but strikeouts are up. I can think of a few possible reasons for that. Slugging percentage is up though. That's excitement isn't it? Or is it groupthink if it happened after 1990?

I used 3 years since I don't feel like spending more than 5 minutes on such a poorly thought out article. But I scrolled through the list and those numbers aren't outliers or anything.

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I agree with everyone who is saying that the article does not clearly state or back up an argument. I had some pre-impressions from his work on MLB network, but I think the article does clearly state Verducci's concern for the excitement level of the game:

"What we are left with is a sport in which games keep getting longer but with less and less action. The ball is not put in play on 81 percent of the pitches, an all-time record of inactivity. The knottiest issue for baseball is not the stadium issues of Oakland and Tampa Bay or the Biogenesis scandal; it's the increased lack of action in your average baseball game."

I think an implicit concern in the article is that fans may watch a world class hitter like Votto looking for a walk when he has worked the count in his favor in a high-leverage situation. Clearly, I am reading between the lines and oversimplifying, but I think it is getting at some interesting questions.

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