April 28, 2015
Here and here I’ve put forward a few thoughts on MLB pace of play and the relative impotence of this year’s rule changes to make much of a difference. Today I learned that Baseball Reference has compiled a page with some important pace of play data.
Most interesting to me here is the time/9IP metric, which normalizes data to neutralize an abnormal prevalence of games that go more or less than a full nine innings. I hadn’t thought to do this, and though it doesn’t matter much (historically 3-6 minutes on a per-game basis), better analysis is better analysis.
Interestingly, the page doesn’t get into per-pitch analysis. It does list plate appearances per game and pitches per plate appearance, but doesn’t take the obvious next steps and list pitches/game or seconds/pitch.
A quick look at the data (which has more games than my prior analysis) shows this year to be about in line with 2012. Still slower than the 1998-2011 period, but faster than 1988-1997, in the asking-to-be-improved pitches/game metric.
Last night I wrote about baseball’s non-existent pace of play “problem.” My basic argument is that the increase in average duration of baseball games over the last 50 years is mostly due to fundamental changes in how the game is played, and not so much because the game’s natural gaps have gotten longer because of extended commercial breaks or more intense nether-region scratching or something.
I noted that while games last almost 6% longer than they did in the late-1980s/early-1990s, they include almost 8% more pitches, and that the pace of play, when measured in seconds per pitch, is faster today than it was then. I noted that sec/pitch, while much better than hours/game, is still fairly rudimentary. I have started looking into parsing the time data more, but I probably won’t have the time needed to really get into it for a while. So here’s my survey of the important data that’s out there. Read the rest of this entry »
Update: Charts use 2015 data through June 2.
A lot is being made of MLB’s new rules that are intended to solve the “problem” that games take too long. But there’s nothing MLB can do to significantly shorten the average game duration, and we all need to understand why.
It’s in the data. Read the rest of this entry »
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg struggled during his first two starts of 2015, giving up 19 hits in 10 2/3 innings, including 4 hits on curveballs. Lots of folks noticed that Strasburg’s curveball appeared lifeless. The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg wrote a Fancy Stats column on it on April 16, complete with a chart showing that Strasburg’s curveballs haven’t been close to the knee-bucklers we’ve seen in the past. Read the rest of this entry »
[As I finished writing this, I came across Adam Kilgore’s piece here, which also gets into the differences between regular season and playoff pitcher management.]
This post is not about the Nationals’ terrible, awful, no-good NLDS hitting, where the lineup (not including pitchers, pinch hitters, Rendon, or Harper) hit .112 with an OPS of .316. This post is about Matt Williams’ criticism for his management of the pitching staff.
The critics have missed the moves that were the biggest mistakes. Williams’ errors were related to being stuck in a regular season mindset and/or not thinking far enough ahead. Read the rest of this entry »
Game 5. All Washington Nationals fans remember. An epic collapse in the Nats’ first playoff series, losing a 6 run lead to the Cardinals including a 4-run swing, from from 2 up to 2 down, in one devastating, soul-crushing, monumental 9th inning meltdown.
I was in standing room, right up from 1st base, at the back of section 130. I was with my brother, back here in our hometown from Houston on business. My brother Jon.
The Cardinals fan. Read the rest of this entry »
Major League Baseball has a big problem, and it’s not that games are too long. It’s far more fundamental than that.
Human umpires are incapable of calling the strike zone accurately, and MLB must replace them with an automated system of computers calling balls and strikes.
I’m going to write a series of posts describing the strike zone, how poorly umpires call it, the reasons why humans are incapable of doing this job, why technology can do it better, the current PITCHf/x system, how it needs to be improved to take over for humans, and why MLB’s reluctance to do so is misguided and temporary, and how the change would improve baseball.
It might take me a while to write these things. I will not claim that the ideas I describe here are completely original, as much of it seems to be “intuitively obvious to the casual observer” (thanks Dr. Stageberg). I will note source material, or places where concepts have been previously discussed if I’ve read them. And I’ll add links to previous work if it’s brought to my attention.
Please send me a message or a comment. I’m happy to discuss any of these issues. And thanks for reading.