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Runs, Strikeouts, and Pace of Play - Perry


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With regard to runs, we need to compare the current numbers to those from last year at this same time. After all, run-scoring tends to dip a bit during cooler months, and that needs to be taken into account. So in April of this season, each team averaged 4.27 runs per game. In April of 2014, that figure clocked in at 4.21, so there's a definite uptick. Yes, it's early, but bear in mind that these are league-wide numbers, and in April of this year we're talking about a sample of more than 650 games.

So what about pace of play? Last season, we reached yet another nadir in terms of game time, as the average game lasted 3.13 hours, per Baseball Prospectus data. This season, that figure is down to 2.96 hours, and that's despite, it would seem, the increase in run-scoring (as I've noted before, though, more runs doesn't necessarily mean longer games). Something that's surely playing a role in those whittled-down game times is the reduced time between pitches. According to FanGraphs, pitchers thus far in 2015 are averaging 22 seconds between pitches this season, and that's compared to a 2014 figure of 23 seconds. Obviously, that's not a huge difference, but it adds up once you consider that the average game entails 300 pitches or so.

There are, of course, other factors. In addition to focusing on the time between pitches, MLB tweaked the replay system and cut down on the length of between-inning breaks. All of those factors are likely playing a role in what we've seen thus far in 2015.

When it comes to strikeouts, we'll also use month-over-month data. April 2015 yielded a K% (strikeouts as a percentage of plate appearances/batters faced) of 20.1. That compares to an April 2014 K% of 20.8. Again, not a stark difference, but it's progress. Maybe we're seeing plate umps respond, in preemptive fashion, to high-level concerns about the downward migration of the strike zone.

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