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In Defense of the Batting Average
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ESPN has an extremely long article on the decline of batting average as the key baseball statistic and the concomitant decline of batting averages.

Is the .300 hitter a thing of the past?

Bradford Doolittle
ESPN Staff Writer

Batting average — basehits divided by at-bats (with walks not being counted as either hits or at-bats) was the premiere baseball statistic until the late 20th Century. The highest batting average player for a season is known as the Batting Champion.

The article uses the story of how Mickey Mantle sadly wound up, during the Pitcher’s Era of the 1960s, with less than a .300 average for his career, which caused him to be looked upon as overrated in the 1970s. (Modern analysis, however, finds the Mick to be just as great as fans thought at the time. Sabermetricians like to believe that they are digging up new knowledge about the past, but they mostly come up with findings in line with what the paying customers of baseball had thought at the time: e.g., Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle were great hitters, just like fans said.)

Similarly, Albert Pujols, who hit .328 from 2001 to 2010, will likely fall below a career .300 average this season as the new computer-driven shift defenses turn his line drives into outs.

Heck, the unworldly Mike Trout only has a career average of .306 and it seems likely that he will enter the Hall of Fame around 2040 with a career average around, say, .285 or .290.

On the other hand, I would like to offer a defense of batting average as a useful statistic. It is criticized as a poor indicator of how much a batter is helping his team win because it ignores getting on base via a walk and it doesn’t give credit for extra base hits. So, batting champions can be less valuable than players with more walks and homers.

Four time batting champion Bill Madlock, for example, was a fine hitter with a .305 career batting average, but he didn’t bring all that much other than his batting average to the table. The sabermetricians love to point out that, say, Bobby Grich was a better all-around player even if his batting average (.266) was considerably lower. Interestingly, despite Madlock’s gaudy batting average, he never finished above 6th in the MVP voting and only got 4.5% the one time he was allowed on a Hall of Fame ballot, so it’s not as if pre-sabermetrics sportswriters were wholly deluded by the glamor of batting average.

So, batting average isn’t that useful for comparing between hitters. What it is useful for, however, is comparing a player to himself. Specifically, a high batting average relative to his career correlates with a player playing closer to his potential. Batting average is a helpful measure for determining if a player is having a hot streak or a slump.

For example, Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers entered tonight’s game hitting .401, which is impressive for a low batting average season. And, indeed, he is by all accounts a much improved hitter over his first two seasons when he hit in the .260s. Even though he hit 38 homers in his rookie year of 2017, by the World Series, the Astros pitchers had figured out how to dismantle his long swing and he only hit .143 with 17 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances.

Apparently over the 2018-2019 winter he figured out how to patch the holes in his swing, and this season he has a league leading 61 hits to only 25 strikeouts.

In contrast, last season Texas Rangers Joey “Three True Outcomes” Gallo struck out 207 times and had only 103 hits, or fewer than half as many hits as strikeouts as he batted .206 but with 40 homers.

One value of the batting average is that it provides a bigger sample size, whereas measures heavily weighted by home runs can be fluky over short time spans, since homers are relatively rare.

You can see this even with all time great power hitters. For example, in Babe Ruth’s 1923 season, his homer total dipped to only 41 compared to 59 in 1921. But he batted a career high .393. And sure enough, modern sabermetrics usually points to 1923 as his career peak.

Ted Williams hit .406 at age 22 in 1941 and .388 at 38 in 1957, his two highest average seasons, and, indeed, modern analysis points to those as his best seasons at the plate.

So, while batting averages are of little use for comparing players, they are a good measure for comparing the player to himself.

 
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  1. Steve, How many hours of the day are you reading, thinking and analyzing? 12 hours? It’s unbelievable.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I don't do much else, so 12 hours is pretty normal, although probably more like 11.

    I sleep close to 8.5 hours per night, and it takes an hour to wind down and fall asleep, and about 0.5 hours to get started in the morning. Take an hour off for a walk, and now I'm up to 11 hours per day not at my desk, so 13 is my maximum per day long term, but it's probably more like 10.5 hours per day 6 days per week and maybe one day of 5 hours, so that would be a steady 70 hour work week, with maybe two weeks per year at half that time.

  2. Are you channeling George Will now with this baseball tripe? Baseball is world’s second most boring spectator sport, exceeded only by watching golf.

    • Disagree: JimDandy
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Golf post coming up!
    , @Reg Cæsar

    Baseball is world’s second most boring spectator sport
     
    Go back to your game console and leave us alone.
    , @a
    Baseball on television is boring but watching it at a park is interesting for some reason.
    , @MikeatMikedotMike
    I guess you haven't heard of soccer.
  3. @Western
    Steve, How many hours of the day are you reading, thinking and analyzing? 12 hours? It's unbelievable.

    I don’t do much else, so 12 hours is pretty normal, although probably more like 11.

    I sleep close to 8.5 hours per night, and it takes an hour to wind down and fall asleep, and about 0.5 hours to get started in the morning. Take an hour off for a walk, and now I’m up to 11 hours per day not at my desk, so 13 is my maximum per day long term, but it’s probably more like 10.5 hours per day 6 days per week and maybe one day of 5 hours, so that would be a steady 70 hour work week, with maybe two weeks per year at half that time.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I'm surprised you sleep that much and get a daily walk in. It seems like you're always either posting, moderating comments, or on Twitter.

    Do you post, moderate, or Tweet on your smartphone while on your walks and doing other things away from your computer? Do you ever go to the gym? I've heard that there are gyms everywhere in LA, like every few blocks or something.

    8.5 hours of sleep is impressive. Is that uninterrupted, or counting naps and shifts? I wonder if exposure to the California sun helps people sleep better.
    , @kimchilover
    God bless ya, man.
  4. @Normie-American
    Are you channeling George Will now with this baseball tripe? Baseball is world's second most boring spectator sport, exceeded only by watching golf.

    Golf post coming up!

  5. I really enjoy off topic posts like this. It reminds me of the way Mickey Kaus would do a critique of the latest BMW design.

    Do you get a chance to play golf these days?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Not too often. I played last year at The National adjoining Shinnecock Hills. That wouldn't be a bad last round ever.
  6. Ted Williams was the last batter to hit above .400.
    That record has stood since 1941.
    It is the holy grail of baseball.
    There is no more important stat than batting average.
    There is nothing more compelling than a season long hitting streak that threatens to achieve .400.
    Sorry Steve, but you and the sabermetricians know nothing.

  7. Baseball needs more stats that measure clutch hitting. A guy hits 40 homers, but 10 of them happen when the team is up or down by 5+ runs, that should be quantified somehow. Hits to lead off an inning should get more credit. With all of the strikeouts now they should now give a guy credit for an RBI even if he grounds into a double play with the bases loaded. And so on and so forth.

    • Replies: @njguy73
    You should check out Win Probability Added.

    https://tht.fangraphs.com/the-one-about-win-probability/
  8. Don’t forget to get up and walk around from time to time if you are sitting for 12 hours a day. Do forward lunges too.

    • Replies: @reactionry
    [Squatting behind the plate for prolonged periods might not be good for running speed nor overall fitness. Nope; haven't looked it up]

    Battey (Below) Averages?
    Or: Minnesota Evil Twinize?

    While Minnesota Twins Golden Glover catcher Earl Battey
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Battey
    probably had an abundance of fast-twitch muscles well suited for throwing out those attempting to steal second base, he was not known for burning up the base paths in spite of apparent West African sprinter ancestry.

    "As a 15-year-old fan, I devoted my bashing to Earl Battey, the slow-footed catcher. He hit into way too many rally-killing double plays for my taste. Heck, he got thrown out at first base when he hit a one-hopper to right field (Lou Clinton was the culprit, I believe)."
    http://www.startribune.com/reusse-underappreciated-battey-holds-spot-in-history/253067131/

    Confirmation: https://twinstrivia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Sporting-News-08011964-P17-Battey-thrown-out-at-first.pdf

    If memory serves, Battey resented Clinton for that play.

    [BTW., was Bela Kun "hungary" for power?]

  9. Cody Bellinger

    The most disturbing statistic about Bellinger is that his father was born in 1968. Clay would have been in junior high when John Elway came to town to play center field.

    How many Codys are in the majors at the moment? It’s stomach-turning to read a class list or scholastic sports roster these days. It’s not any one name, it’s the total effect. You can OD on all the “cool”. Even the surviving traditional names are affected. It’s William, Henry, Andrew, please, not Bill, Andy, or Hank.

    Add about 15 years, and the majors will be full of these.

    • Replies: @Whitey Whiteman III
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpH5MqP1R8w
  10. @Normie-American
    Are you channeling George Will now with this baseball tripe? Baseball is world's second most boring spectator sport, exceeded only by watching golf.

    Baseball is world’s second most boring spectator sport

    Go back to your game console and leave us alone.

    • LOL: JimDandy
    • Replies: @Marty
    The baseball-excitement gap can be bridged simply by arriving at the game early. Consider this pre-batting practice exchange between Bill Madlock and Willie Stargell at Candlestick, 5/79:

    WS: "Smell that fart? Smell that fart? Eat that fart. What kinda car you got Bill?"
    BM: "Got me a big Lincoln."
    WS: Shit that ain't no kinda car!"
    BM: "Kinda car you got Will?
    WS: "Got me a Benz."

  11. @Anon
    I really enjoy off topic posts like this. It reminds me of the way Mickey Kaus would do a critique of the latest BMW design.

    Do you get a chance to play golf these days?

    Not too often. I played last year at The National adjoining Shinnecock Hills. That wouldn’t be a bad last round ever.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    Well then in thirtysome years make sure to do that.

    Not sooner.
  12. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer
    I don't do much else, so 12 hours is pretty normal, although probably more like 11.

    I sleep close to 8.5 hours per night, and it takes an hour to wind down and fall asleep, and about 0.5 hours to get started in the morning. Take an hour off for a walk, and now I'm up to 11 hours per day not at my desk, so 13 is my maximum per day long term, but it's probably more like 10.5 hours per day 6 days per week and maybe one day of 5 hours, so that would be a steady 70 hour work week, with maybe two weeks per year at half that time.

    I’m surprised you sleep that much and get a daily walk in. It seems like you’re always either posting, moderating comments, or on Twitter.

    Do you post, moderate, or Tweet on your smartphone while on your walks and doing other things away from your computer? Do you ever go to the gym? I’ve heard that there are gyms everywhere in LA, like every few blocks or something.

    8.5 hours of sleep is impressive. Is that uninterrupted, or counting naps and shifts? I wonder if exposure to the California sun helps people sleep better.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    "Do you post, moderate, or Tweet on your smartphone while on your walks and doing other things away from your computer?"

    Not lately. I broke my smartphone about a year ago. And then I just moderated while standing in checkout lines and the likely. I really can't do more than one thing at a time: no multitasking ability. When I walk, I mostly just walk. Sometimes I send text messages to myself with phrases for articles.

  13. @Anonymous
    I'm surprised you sleep that much and get a daily walk in. It seems like you're always either posting, moderating comments, or on Twitter.

    Do you post, moderate, or Tweet on your smartphone while on your walks and doing other things away from your computer? Do you ever go to the gym? I've heard that there are gyms everywhere in LA, like every few blocks or something.

    8.5 hours of sleep is impressive. Is that uninterrupted, or counting naps and shifts? I wonder if exposure to the California sun helps people sleep better.

    “Do you post, moderate, or Tweet on your smartphone while on your walks and doing other things away from your computer?”

    Not lately. I broke my smartphone about a year ago. And then I just moderated while standing in checkout lines and the likely. I really can’t do more than one thing at a time: no multitasking ability. When I walk, I mostly just walk. Sometimes I send text messages to myself with phrases for articles.

  14. I remember when Bill Madlock went 4-4 on the last day of the season in 1976 to beat Ken Griffey, Sr. (who went 0-2 that day) for the batting championship by 1 percentage point. He played for the Cubs at the time, and the Cubs were godawful. Madlock won four batting championships–were any of those while playing for World Series champs? I wonder how much better a high average player’s legacy would be if he played for a dynasty. One thing is certain–he would have more RBI’s and runs scored.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    1979 Pirates. Had a key RBI-single in game 5 (Orioles lead series 3-1 at the time).
    , @Marty
    Story about Madlock in a book about the '73 Texas Rangers, by a sportswriter named Shropshire. At the end of spring training Whitey Herzog, the rookie manager, told Madlock, the AAA phenom, he was being sent down even though he'd probably be the best player on the Rangers. Herzog said, "these guys are so bad they'll just mess you up."
  15. @Normie-American
    Are you channeling George Will now with this baseball tripe? Baseball is world's second most boring spectator sport, exceeded only by watching golf.

    Baseball on television is boring but watching it at a park is interesting for some reason.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    a, On a long drive, without the wife, a game on the radio can be a pure delight, especially if the announcer has a mellow voice and can paint a verbal picture of the action. A good color commentator helps too. TV allows you to see how many pitches the umps call wrong.
  16. it’s still a good measure. it’s declining because:

    1) pitching slowly and steadily gets better every year and pitchers advantage over batters is increasing
    2) really slow pace of play. the more the pitcher can slow it down the better he does and the worse the batters do
    3) the statistics decision which says all that matters is home runs or strike outs

    to increase batting average (in effect to increase the amount of action in the game) you either want to:

    1) speed up the game. this is the idea behind the pitch clock
    2) move the mound back

    nobody is ever going to bat .400 again, because the field of pitchers sucked back when guys could hit .400. there’s old records like this in many sports, where one guy could have a huge advantage over the field, because the field wasn’t as good, but nobody today can be that far ahead of the field anymore, so they’ll never break these old records.

    1972 dolphins 17 win season is probably the most annoying. thankfully they almost never talk about it anymore, since lots of those guys died and we don’t have hear about these annoying old football players popping champagne once the last undefeated NFL team finally goes 12-1 or 13-1 some season, in a league where those 1972 players couldn’t even sit on the bench. shut up, old dolphins players.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    Did you notice that the baseball was redesigned in 2015?
    , @The Last Real Calvinist

    to increase batting average (in effect to increase the amount of action in the game) you either want to:

    1) speed up the game. this is the idea behind the pitch clock
    2) move the mound back
     
    MLB should try #1 before messing around with the proportions of the field of play.

    Also, it would make more sense to lower the mound instead of moving it back.
    , @Simply Simon
    "the more the pitcher can slow the game down......"
    Apparently all the MLB pitchers know this. It's maddening watching a pitcher bent over, pondering whatever until the batter gets fed up and steps out of the box. Repeated many times during a game. If runner on base it's worse.
  17. anonymous[331] • Disclaimer says:
    @JimDandy
    I remember when Bill Madlock went 4-4 on the last day of the season in 1976 to beat Ken Griffey, Sr. (who went 0-2 that day) for the batting championship by 1 percentage point. He played for the Cubs at the time, and the Cubs were godawful. Madlock won four batting championships--were any of those while playing for World Series champs? I wonder how much better a high average player's legacy would be if he played for a dynasty. One thing is certain--he would have more RBI's and runs scored.

    1979 Pirates. Had a key RBI-single in game 5 (Orioles lead series 3-1 at the time).

    • Replies: @njguy73
    Yes, Madlock got a ring with the '79 Pirates, but he didn't win the batting title that year.
  18. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    Paging commenter Travis!

    Since the game has been intentionally converted to Home Run Derby with smaller playing fields and, especially, the low-seam baseball mid-2015, batting average has — sadly — become less important to a team’s offensive success. Why do you almost always leave this out when delving into this topic, but mention “the new computer-driven shift defenses [that] turn his line drives into outs”?

    Like the raised mound of 1968, the flatter-seamed ball is a New Coke blunder that needs to be unwound if MLB wants to return to a game that doesn’t come down to K versus HR.

    Boycott Ba$hball.

  19. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @prime noticer
    it's still a good measure. it's declining because:

    1) pitching slowly and steadily gets better every year and pitchers advantage over batters is increasing
    2) really slow pace of play. the more the pitcher can slow it down the better he does and the worse the batters do
    3) the statistics decision which says all that matters is home runs or strike outs

    to increase batting average (in effect to increase the amount of action in the game) you either want to:

    1) speed up the game. this is the idea behind the pitch clock
    2) move the mound back

    nobody is ever going to bat .400 again, because the field of pitchers sucked back when guys could hit .400. there's old records like this in many sports, where one guy could have a huge advantage over the field, because the field wasn't as good, but nobody today can be that far ahead of the field anymore, so they'll never break these old records.

    1972 dolphins 17 win season is probably the most annoying. thankfully they almost never talk about it anymore, since lots of those guys died and we don't have hear about these annoying old football players popping champagne once the last undefeated NFL team finally goes 12-1 or 13-1 some season, in a league where those 1972 players couldn't even sit on the bench. shut up, old dolphins players.

    Did you notice that the baseball was redesigned in 2015?

  20. I gave up espn when they went all woke a few years ago, but I did read the article, and it was worth it; it’s really good. It sums up a lot of the concerns about baseball slipping into a ‘three true outcomes’ rut, and its information on the effects of defensive shifting was persuasive; I’d not realized it was such a big deal these days.

    Let’s hope this prognostication is accurate:

    If the best offenses — the championship offenses — are moving beyond the “three true outcomes,” then teams will want to copy that and be as balanced as possible. To do that, you’ve got to have an ample supply of well-rounded hitters. And if the minors aren’t producing them now, well, it will take only a few years to start churning them out.

  21. @prime noticer
    it's still a good measure. it's declining because:

    1) pitching slowly and steadily gets better every year and pitchers advantage over batters is increasing
    2) really slow pace of play. the more the pitcher can slow it down the better he does and the worse the batters do
    3) the statistics decision which says all that matters is home runs or strike outs

    to increase batting average (in effect to increase the amount of action in the game) you either want to:

    1) speed up the game. this is the idea behind the pitch clock
    2) move the mound back

    nobody is ever going to bat .400 again, because the field of pitchers sucked back when guys could hit .400. there's old records like this in many sports, where one guy could have a huge advantage over the field, because the field wasn't as good, but nobody today can be that far ahead of the field anymore, so they'll never break these old records.

    1972 dolphins 17 win season is probably the most annoying. thankfully they almost never talk about it anymore, since lots of those guys died and we don't have hear about these annoying old football players popping champagne once the last undefeated NFL team finally goes 12-1 or 13-1 some season, in a league where those 1972 players couldn't even sit on the bench. shut up, old dolphins players.

    to increase batting average (in effect to increase the amount of action in the game) you either want to:

    1) speed up the game. this is the idea behind the pitch clock
    2) move the mound back

    MLB should try #1 before messing around with the proportions of the field of play.

    Also, it would make more sense to lower the mound instead of moving it back.

    • Replies: @njguy73
    It was the domination of night baseball that made .400 impossible to hit. Less light, harder to see.
  22. I wonder how much batting average correlates with number of times walked. Ted Williams said he would rather “take a walk” rather than swing at bad pitches. He wanted to make pitchers throw him pitches in the strike zone.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Generally, for players of comparable skill, a higher batting average correlates with fewer walks and fewer strikeouts. Mike Trout, the gold standard, has never hit over .326 in part because he strikes out a fair amount of the time, although not that much lately, in part because he accepts a huge number of walks. He could probably hit .350 for a season if he cut down on homers and walks and just tried to hit line drives, but he'd be less valuable.

    But most players don't make that conscious strategy.

    Generally speaking, players batting averages will rise over their first few years in the league as they get adjusted. For example, Lou Gehrig hit, from age 22 to 24, .295, .313, and .373 in his famous 1927 season. With age, batting averages tend to decrease as they slow down and beat out fewer infield singles. But homers go up in the mid-20s as players reach maximum strength. Walks tend to go up a little over time as batters get more cunning and less eager.

    But a season with a high batting average relative to the rest of his career is usually indicative of a player being in ideal health and seeing the ball well. For instance, Ted Williams had a lot of nagging injuries in his 30s but in 1957 was in great health and was hitting about .375 on September 1. But then he took a couple of weeks off for some injury but when he came back, he was rested and utterly dialed in. His first 16 place appearances back in the line-up, nobody got him out: he reached base safely 16 times in a row, apparently the longest streak ever. He was 38 or 39 years old.

  23. Wade Boggs had a career BA of .328, but he only hit 118 homers in 18 years.

    1987 was a contract year, so Boggs decided he was going to hit more home runs, and he hit 24 that year. He also batted .363. Boggs only hit double digits in homers once after that.

    He had 3,010 hits. Number 3,000 was a home run.

  24. @Paul
    I wonder how much batting average correlates with number of times walked. Ted Williams said he would rather "take a walk" rather than swing at bad pitches. He wanted to make pitchers throw him pitches in the strike zone.

    Generally, for players of comparable skill, a higher batting average correlates with fewer walks and fewer strikeouts. Mike Trout, the gold standard, has never hit over .326 in part because he strikes out a fair amount of the time, although not that much lately, in part because he accepts a huge number of walks. He could probably hit .350 for a season if he cut down on homers and walks and just tried to hit line drives, but he’d be less valuable.

    But most players don’t make that conscious strategy.

    Generally speaking, players batting averages will rise over their first few years in the league as they get adjusted. For example, Lou Gehrig hit, from age 22 to 24, .295, .313, and .373 in his famous 1927 season. With age, batting averages tend to decrease as they slow down and beat out fewer infield singles. But homers go up in the mid-20s as players reach maximum strength. Walks tend to go up a little over time as batters get more cunning and less eager.

    But a season with a high batting average relative to the rest of his career is usually indicative of a player being in ideal health and seeing the ball well. For instance, Ted Williams had a lot of nagging injuries in his 30s but in 1957 was in great health and was hitting about .375 on September 1. But then he took a couple of weeks off for some injury but when he came back, he was rested and utterly dialed in. His first 16 place appearances back in the line-up, nobody got him out: he reached base safely 16 times in a row, apparently the longest streak ever. He was 38 or 39 years old.

    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist

    Mike Trout . . . could probably hit .350 for a season if he cut down on homers and walks and just tried to hit line drives, but he’d be less valuable.

     

    It seems like Trout makes more outs by lining out to the outfield, especially to center, than any other player I've followed. You do wonder if he's a natural line drive hitter who's frequently trying to move up that launch angle to maximize power. Anyway, whatever he's doing, it's working.
    , @Ganderson
    I had a “how to play baseball” book when I was a kid- the hitting section was written by Harmon Killebrew. IIRC he discussed the trade off between average and homers, although I don’t think he mentioned walks. The gist was that he could have surely hit for a higher average, but the cost in home runs wouldn’t have been worth it.
  25. @Steve Sailer
    Generally, for players of comparable skill, a higher batting average correlates with fewer walks and fewer strikeouts. Mike Trout, the gold standard, has never hit over .326 in part because he strikes out a fair amount of the time, although not that much lately, in part because he accepts a huge number of walks. He could probably hit .350 for a season if he cut down on homers and walks and just tried to hit line drives, but he'd be less valuable.

    But most players don't make that conscious strategy.

    Generally speaking, players batting averages will rise over their first few years in the league as they get adjusted. For example, Lou Gehrig hit, from age 22 to 24, .295, .313, and .373 in his famous 1927 season. With age, batting averages tend to decrease as they slow down and beat out fewer infield singles. But homers go up in the mid-20s as players reach maximum strength. Walks tend to go up a little over time as batters get more cunning and less eager.

    But a season with a high batting average relative to the rest of his career is usually indicative of a player being in ideal health and seeing the ball well. For instance, Ted Williams had a lot of nagging injuries in his 30s but in 1957 was in great health and was hitting about .375 on September 1. But then he took a couple of weeks off for some injury but when he came back, he was rested and utterly dialed in. His first 16 place appearances back in the line-up, nobody got him out: he reached base safely 16 times in a row, apparently the longest streak ever. He was 38 or 39 years old.

    Mike Trout . . . could probably hit .350 for a season if he cut down on homers and walks and just tried to hit line drives, but he’d be less valuable.

    It seems like Trout makes more outs by lining out to the outfield, especially to center, than any other player I’ve followed. You do wonder if he’s a natural line drive hitter who’s frequently trying to move up that launch angle to maximize power. Anyway, whatever he’s doing, it’s working.

  26. @Normie-American
    Are you channeling George Will now with this baseball tripe? Baseball is world's second most boring spectator sport, exceeded only by watching golf.

    I guess you haven’t heard of soccer.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    Mike, Soccer is sex compared to cricket.
  27. Baseball is just rounders adjusted by the Spalding company in the 1860s to make it more macho.

    If you don’t believe me (re. macho), check the publicity material of the time. Cricket was still popular in the U.S.A. at the time, the Spalding adverts harped on the greater ‘manliness’ of baseball.

    Cricket is far more interesting as a game, in terms of both strategy, tactics, and action.

    Of course, until the recent celebration of soccer, baseball was also the national game in Japan. I have seen many of the surviving pre-WWII animated films, those with propaganda aims and sports themes always feature baseball or rugby.

    Cricket is much more suited to Japan, like a Sumo tournament (15 days), a top-level cricket match takes up to five days.

    I enjoy watching the baseball at times, particularly the high-school contests, but after learning about and watching cricket, I think it a little sad that it was not adopted instead. It is more suitable.

    Baseball relies on bands and cheer squads, like American ‘football’, beause as games, both are pretty dull.

    Cricket, both types of rugby, hockey (both hockey and ice hockey), even soccer (also dull, in a similar way to baseball) are not reliant on those things to be entertaining.

    • Agree: Kratoklastes
    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    I love my rugby (not rugby league though) because every Kiwi's DNA codes heavily for love of the All Blacks - however if The Black aren't playing the most exciting sports to watch are

    • Australian Rules football;
    • Hurling;
    • Gaelic football;
    • Rugby Union (if the All Blacks aren't involved)

    Australian Rules is played on a gigantic surface: the MCG - on which the Grand Final is played - has an area of roughly 17,720 sqm, whereas a gridiron is 2,267sqm.

    The record crowd at the MCG was 121,696 in 1970 - when Melbourne's population was about 2.3 million (at that stage the competition only included teams from Melbourne). The ground has been reformatted so that it's seating only, and its capacity is now 100,024... which is what the crowd was for last year's grand final.

    Key 'on ball' players normally run 13-15 km in the course of a game, a very large proportion of that at pace... and the average professional AFL player is 6'1", 180lb and has massive cardio (an elite player will run a 2km TT in ~6 minutes, and the average beep test [shuttle run] result in draft combines is 13, with a top performance of 16 now being standard).

    The video below gives a reasonably good indication as to why AFL is among the most-attended sports in the world, and very likely the most highly attended on a per-capita basis - to put it in context,
    • 18 AFL teams play a total of 207 games, attracting a total attendance of 7.6 million in a nation of ~24.6 million (i.e., an attendance to population ratio of 30.9%);
    • 32 NFL teams play a total of 256 games and attract a total attendance of 17.6 million in a nation of ~327.2 million (an attendance to population ratio of 5.4%);
    • MLB teams play an eye-watering 2,430 regular season games; they attract a total attendance of 72.6 million in a combined US/Canada population of 364.3 million (an attendance to population ratio of 19.9%).


    And this is why - it's worth the 5 minutes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMZYZcoAcU0
  28. “Sabermetricians like to believe…”

    Honestly, Steve, apart from being unworthy of you, statements like this make you look silly. A man would have to be really stupid to think he need advanced metrics to figure out that Ruth, Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle were great hitters, and no sabermetrician has ever claimed otherwise. If you have a quote to the contrary, please share. Otherwise, stop slandering sabermetricians.

    What sabermetrics did was focus on the relationship between what a hitter did and how many runs his team scored. And that led to all sorts of discoveries: walks were more helpful than previously realized, grounding into a double play was really bad. Power was more important, and batting average less important, than previously thought. Sabermetrics also looked at run-scoring context and park effects, so you could compare players in different eras. (One result of this was to show that, though Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were great hitters just like everyone knew, Ruth was clearly better at generating runs, relative to the league he was playing in, than Cobb. Another, incidentally, is to show that Mickey Mantle in 1968 was still a pretty good hitter, even though his batting average, homers and RBIs looked terrible by his standards.)

    No one needed Bill James to learn that Babe Ruth was great. But it did take Bill James to figure out that Darrell Evans (.248 BA lifetime) was HOF-level good.

    You can see this even with all time great power hitters. For example, in Babe Ruth’s 1923 season, his homer total dipped to only 41 compared to 59 in 1921. But he batted a career high .393. And sure enough, modern sabermetrics usually points to 1923 as his career peak.

    Wait, so sabermetrics work after all? Anyway, the reason Ruth’s 1923 season outranks 1921 (by some measures of WAR) is that he threw out a bunch of runners, giving him a really good defensive rating for the only time in his career. He had a great arm, of course, but since that’s the only year it happened I assume it’s a fluke.

    The other reason, besides his batting average, that his offense was so good in 1923 that he walked 170 times (career high) and thus had an otherworldly .545 on-base percentage.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Babe Ruth got a vast number of walks, which sabermetricians rate highly. He was also the most popular baseball player of all time.

    Darrell Evans was somewhat underrated, but he played 21 years in the majors, playing 107 games at age 42, so it's not like his contributions were wholly unappreciated:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/e/evansda01.shtml

    , @Desiderius
    The sabermetricians won the war years ago. You can come out of your bunker now. Steve’s trying to throw a bone to the savvier intuitives.
    , @Anon87
    WAR is where sabermetrics jumped the shark.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    grounding into a double play was really bad.
     
    Which is why great defense is underrated. But it's hard to quantify. But the Orioles won three straight pennants 50 years ago with the best infield of the day.
  29. @Steve Sailer
    Generally, for players of comparable skill, a higher batting average correlates with fewer walks and fewer strikeouts. Mike Trout, the gold standard, has never hit over .326 in part because he strikes out a fair amount of the time, although not that much lately, in part because he accepts a huge number of walks. He could probably hit .350 for a season if he cut down on homers and walks and just tried to hit line drives, but he'd be less valuable.

    But most players don't make that conscious strategy.

    Generally speaking, players batting averages will rise over their first few years in the league as they get adjusted. For example, Lou Gehrig hit, from age 22 to 24, .295, .313, and .373 in his famous 1927 season. With age, batting averages tend to decrease as they slow down and beat out fewer infield singles. But homers go up in the mid-20s as players reach maximum strength. Walks tend to go up a little over time as batters get more cunning and less eager.

    But a season with a high batting average relative to the rest of his career is usually indicative of a player being in ideal health and seeing the ball well. For instance, Ted Williams had a lot of nagging injuries in his 30s but in 1957 was in great health and was hitting about .375 on September 1. But then he took a couple of weeks off for some injury but when he came back, he was rested and utterly dialed in. His first 16 place appearances back in the line-up, nobody got him out: he reached base safely 16 times in a row, apparently the longest streak ever. He was 38 or 39 years old.

    I had a “how to play baseball” book when I was a kid- the hitting section was written by Harmon Killebrew. IIRC he discussed the trade off between average and homers, although I don’t think he mentioned walks. The gist was that he could have surely hit for a higher average, but the cost in home runs wouldn’t have been worth it.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Right. Ty Cobb, the son of college professor, made a strong intellectual argument in favor of line drive hitting. Babe Ruth, the son of tavern keeper, wasn't as cogent an intellectual, but fans sided with Ruth over Cobb, while sportswriters tended to agree with Cobb.
  30. @Keypusher
    “Sabermetricians like to believe...”

    Honestly, Steve, apart from being unworthy of you, statements like this make you look silly. A man would have to be really stupid to think he need advanced metrics to figure out that Ruth, Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle were great hitters, and no sabermetrician has ever claimed otherwise. If you have a quote to the contrary, please share. Otherwise, stop slandering sabermetricians.

    What sabermetrics did was focus on the relationship between what a hitter did and how many runs his team scored. And that led to all sorts of discoveries: walks were more helpful than previously realized, grounding into a double play was really bad. Power was more important, and batting average less important, than previously thought. Sabermetrics also looked at run-scoring context and park effects, so you could compare players in different eras. (One result of this was to show that, though Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were great hitters just like everyone knew, Ruth was clearly better at generating runs, relative to the league he was playing in, than Cobb. Another, incidentally, is to show that Mickey Mantle in 1968 was still a pretty good hitter, even though his batting average, homers and RBIs looked terrible by his standards.)

    No one needed Bill James to learn that Babe Ruth was great. But it did take Bill James to figure out that Darrell Evans (.248 BA lifetime) was HOF-level good.

    You can see this even with all time great power hitters. For example, in Babe Ruth’s 1923 season, his homer total dipped to only 41 compared to 59 in 1921. But he batted a career high .393. And sure enough, modern sabermetrics usually points to 1923 as his career peak.

    Wait, so sabermetrics work after all? Anyway, the reason Ruth’s 1923 season outranks 1921 (by some measures of WAR) is that he threw out a bunch of runners, giving him a really good defensive rating for the only time in his career. He had a great arm, of course, but since that’s the only year it happened I assume it’s a fluke.

    The other reason, besides his batting average, that his offense was so good in 1923 that he walked 170 times (career high) and thus had an otherworldly .545 on-base percentage.

    Babe Ruth got a vast number of walks, which sabermetricians rate highly. He was also the most popular baseball player of all time.

    Darrell Evans was somewhat underrated, but he played 21 years in the majors, playing 107 games at age 42, so it’s not like his contributions were wholly unappreciated:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/e/evansda01.shtml

    • Replies: @Keypusher
    Yes, but there’s a big difference between good and HOF-good. The sabermetricians managed to get Ron Santo, an Evans-type player, into the Hall, but they’ve had no luck with Evans.
  31. @Ganderson
    I had a “how to play baseball” book when I was a kid- the hitting section was written by Harmon Killebrew. IIRC he discussed the trade off between average and homers, although I don’t think he mentioned walks. The gist was that he could have surely hit for a higher average, but the cost in home runs wouldn’t have been worth it.

    Right. Ty Cobb, the son of college professor, made a strong intellectual argument in favor of line drive hitting. Babe Ruth, the son of tavern keeper, wasn’t as cogent an intellectual, but fans sided with Ruth over Cobb, while sportswriters tended to agree with Cobb.

  32. Astute observation on sample size. You see similar arguments in ice Hockey with Corsi events vs shots on goal vs actual goals. As you noticed, it’s really hard to consciously game batting average.

  33. @Steve Sailer
    Not too often. I played last year at The National adjoining Shinnecock Hills. That wouldn't be a bad last round ever.

    Well then in thirtysome years make sure to do that.

    Not sooner.

  34. @Keypusher
    “Sabermetricians like to believe...”

    Honestly, Steve, apart from being unworthy of you, statements like this make you look silly. A man would have to be really stupid to think he need advanced metrics to figure out that Ruth, Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle were great hitters, and no sabermetrician has ever claimed otherwise. If you have a quote to the contrary, please share. Otherwise, stop slandering sabermetricians.

    What sabermetrics did was focus on the relationship between what a hitter did and how many runs his team scored. And that led to all sorts of discoveries: walks were more helpful than previously realized, grounding into a double play was really bad. Power was more important, and batting average less important, than previously thought. Sabermetrics also looked at run-scoring context and park effects, so you could compare players in different eras. (One result of this was to show that, though Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were great hitters just like everyone knew, Ruth was clearly better at generating runs, relative to the league he was playing in, than Cobb. Another, incidentally, is to show that Mickey Mantle in 1968 was still a pretty good hitter, even though his batting average, homers and RBIs looked terrible by his standards.)

    No one needed Bill James to learn that Babe Ruth was great. But it did take Bill James to figure out that Darrell Evans (.248 BA lifetime) was HOF-level good.

    You can see this even with all time great power hitters. For example, in Babe Ruth’s 1923 season, his homer total dipped to only 41 compared to 59 in 1921. But he batted a career high .393. And sure enough, modern sabermetrics usually points to 1923 as his career peak.

    Wait, so sabermetrics work after all? Anyway, the reason Ruth’s 1923 season outranks 1921 (by some measures of WAR) is that he threw out a bunch of runners, giving him a really good defensive rating for the only time in his career. He had a great arm, of course, but since that’s the only year it happened I assume it’s a fluke.

    The other reason, besides his batting average, that his offense was so good in 1923 that he walked 170 times (career high) and thus had an otherworldly .545 on-base percentage.

    The sabermetricians won the war years ago. You can come out of your bunker now. Steve’s trying to throw a bone to the savvier intuitives.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    The sabermetricians won the war years ago.
     
    They still have a stupid name. Measuring swords?

    At least the coiner of vexillology apologized for it, saying that he was still young.

    Yes, I do know where it comes from. That's a large part of what makes it stupid. And if you're into studying baseball so thoroughly, why is it "American baseball research"?

    I bet we could learn a lot from Japan, Cuba, the DR, Taiwan, and a few other places. Like, how does limiting the number of teams in a league to six affect the season? They see each other more.

    The Giants and Dodgers faced each other 22 times a year. 25 in 1951. Okay, they play 19 times this year, but at what price? LA has 0nly six games with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, seven each with Chicago, St Louis, and Philadelphia. They play New York ten times, but three of those are with the Yankees.
  35. Steve, a bit OT but–in comparing Joe Morgan to Jeff Kent, scope out the following numbers:

    Joe Morgan: .271 BA, 268 HR, 1137 RBIs, .427 SLG, .392 OBP, 819 OPS
    Jeff Kent: .290 BA, 377 HR, 1518 RBIs, .500 SLG, .356 OBP, 855 OPS

    Both played second base most of their careers. Morgan most assuredly deserved the HoF but so does Kent, whose numbers almost dwarf Morgan’s (except for OBP). And yet, K isn’t in the HoF and it doesn’t look like he will be elected anytime soon. I’ve heard that he crossed swords with a lot of sportswriters and with some of his teammates (including Bonds) and would wonder if that’s a factor.

    Any idea?

    • Replies: @Anon87
    Different eras, so Kent is less impressive compared to his era's "average" player baseline? I haven't looked at eithers OPS+.
  36. @Steve Sailer
    Babe Ruth got a vast number of walks, which sabermetricians rate highly. He was also the most popular baseball player of all time.

    Darrell Evans was somewhat underrated, but he played 21 years in the majors, playing 107 games at age 42, so it's not like his contributions were wholly unappreciated:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/e/evansda01.shtml

    Yes, but there’s a big difference between good and HOF-good. The sabermetricians managed to get Ron Santo, an Evans-type player, into the Hall, but they’ve had no luck with Evans.

  37. @Reg Cæsar

    Cody Bellinger
     
    The most disturbing statistic about Bellinger is that his father was born in 1968. Clay would have been in junior high when John Elway came to town to play center field.

    How many Codys are in the majors at the moment? It's stomach-turning to read a class list or scholastic sports roster these days. It's not any one name, it's the total effect. You can OD on all the "cool". Even the surviving traditional names are affected. It's William, Henry, Andrew, please, not Bill, Andy, or Hank.

    Add about 15 years, and the majors will be full of these.

  38. @Reg Cæsar

    Baseball is world’s second most boring spectator sport
     
    Go back to your game console and leave us alone.

    The baseball-excitement gap can be bridged simply by arriving at the game early. Consider this pre-batting practice exchange between Bill Madlock and Willie Stargell at Candlestick, 5/79:

    WS: “Smell that fart? Smell that fart? Eat that fart. What kinda car you got Bill?”
    BM: “Got me a big Lincoln.”
    WS: Shit that ain’t no kinda car!”
    BM: “Kinda car you got Will?
    WS: “Got me a Benz.”

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    Exploding bats would add to the fun:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rXt8L1Vu8A

    Why didn't the Veecks think of that? Oh, yeah... "disturbing the peace", BATFE, etc.

  39. @a
    Baseball on television is boring but watching it at a park is interesting for some reason.

    a, On a long drive, without the wife, a game on the radio can be a pure delight, especially if the announcer has a mellow voice and can paint a verbal picture of the action. A good color commentator helps too. TV allows you to see how many pitches the umps call wrong.

    • Replies: @Anon87
    Agreed. Great to listen to on a long road trip.
  40. @MikeatMikedotMike
    I guess you haven't heard of soccer.

    Mike, Soccer is sex compared to cricket.

  41. Throw the pitch near him and Ichiro Suzuki would hit it. High and outside, chop it down and out run the catcher’s throw. Low and outside, golf swing just over the infielders’ heads. Fast and fun to watch. Sure HOFer

  42. Bonds’s ‘02 & ‘04 seasons were more productive than his ‘01 season except in home run tally. That increased production was largely due to the intimidation opposing pitchers felt after his ‘01 campaign, though. Sadly, in his pursuit of 756, Bonds batted about .270 in his 40s and lowered his career average to a paltry .298.

  43. It’s not so much that the BA is being ignored, it’s just been sort of updated into OBP and OPS. Those two more trendy stats are pretty strongly correlated with BA but they try to improve on it, not discard it.

    However, WAR is a bullshit stat that no serious fan should pay attention to. It’s about as objective as the adversity score on the SAT.

    • Agree: Anon87
  44. What about an inverse “Mr. 3,000” called “Mr. .300” where Bernie Mac coasts out the last few years of his veteran contract while a mysterious string of fleeting injuries keeps him out of the lineup just enough to maintain his career average over 3/10?

  45. @KunioKun
    Don't forget to get up and walk around from time to time if you are sitting for 12 hours a day. Do forward lunges too.

    [Squatting behind the plate for prolonged periods might not be good for running speed nor overall fitness. Nope; haven’t looked it up]

    Battey (Below) Averages?
    Or: Minnesota Evil Twinize?

    While Minnesota Twins Golden Glover catcher Earl Battey
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Battey
    probably had an abundance of fast-twitch muscles well suited for throwing out those attempting to steal second base, he was not known for burning up the base paths in spite of apparent West African sprinter ancestry.

    “As a 15-year-old fan, I devoted my bashing to Earl Battey, the slow-footed catcher. He hit into way too many rally-killing double plays for my taste. Heck, he got thrown out at first base when he hit a one-hopper to right field (Lou Clinton was the culprit, I believe).”
    http://www.startribune.com/reusse-underappreciated-battey-holds-spot-in-history/253067131/

    Confirmation: https://twinstrivia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Sporting-News-08011964-P17-Battey-thrown-out-at-first.pdf

    If memory serves, Battey resented Clinton for that play.

    [BTW., was Bela Kun “hungary” for power?]

  46. batting average isn’t that useful for comparing between hitters. What it is useful for, however, is comparing a player to himself. Specifically, a high batting average relative to his career correlates with a player playing closer to his potential. Batting average is a helpful measure for determining if a player is having a hot streak or a slump.

    Actually BA is good for comparisons between hitters… it’s just that OBP, SLG, or OPS are all better. (Not to mention even more modern, more synthetic sorts of stats; WAR being the omega stat.)

    I disagree that BA is going to be best for comparing a player to himself. Even if you want to tamp down on rare events like homers, you’ll still do better with OBP. It’s not like walks are rare, at least for any semi-decent hitter.

    • Agree: Desiderius
  47. One all-inclusive stat would be Potential Base Advancements Average (PBAA). This would be your average for advancing base runners AND yourself per made out.

    For instance: No one on base, your PBA is four. Bases loaded it is ten. So a strikeout or easy infield pop-up out with bases loaded effects your PBAA much more negatively than making an out with no one on base.

    So..hits and walks advancing runners, AND clutch performance come into play.

  48. @Keypusher
    “Sabermetricians like to believe...”

    Honestly, Steve, apart from being unworthy of you, statements like this make you look silly. A man would have to be really stupid to think he need advanced metrics to figure out that Ruth, Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle were great hitters, and no sabermetrician has ever claimed otherwise. If you have a quote to the contrary, please share. Otherwise, stop slandering sabermetricians.

    What sabermetrics did was focus on the relationship between what a hitter did and how many runs his team scored. And that led to all sorts of discoveries: walks were more helpful than previously realized, grounding into a double play was really bad. Power was more important, and batting average less important, than previously thought. Sabermetrics also looked at run-scoring context and park effects, so you could compare players in different eras. (One result of this was to show that, though Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were great hitters just like everyone knew, Ruth was clearly better at generating runs, relative to the league he was playing in, than Cobb. Another, incidentally, is to show that Mickey Mantle in 1968 was still a pretty good hitter, even though his batting average, homers and RBIs looked terrible by his standards.)

    No one needed Bill James to learn that Babe Ruth was great. But it did take Bill James to figure out that Darrell Evans (.248 BA lifetime) was HOF-level good.

    You can see this even with all time great power hitters. For example, in Babe Ruth’s 1923 season, his homer total dipped to only 41 compared to 59 in 1921. But he batted a career high .393. And sure enough, modern sabermetrics usually points to 1923 as his career peak.

    Wait, so sabermetrics work after all? Anyway, the reason Ruth’s 1923 season outranks 1921 (by some measures of WAR) is that he threw out a bunch of runners, giving him a really good defensive rating for the only time in his career. He had a great arm, of course, but since that’s the only year it happened I assume it’s a fluke.

    The other reason, besides his batting average, that his offense was so good in 1923 that he walked 170 times (career high) and thus had an otherworldly .545 on-base percentage.

    WAR is where sabermetrics jumped the shark.

  49. @Prester John
    Steve, a bit OT but--in comparing Joe Morgan to Jeff Kent, scope out the following numbers:

    Joe Morgan: .271 BA, 268 HR, 1137 RBIs, .427 SLG, .392 OBP, 819 OPS
    Jeff Kent: .290 BA, 377 HR, 1518 RBIs, .500 SLG, .356 OBP, 855 OPS

    Both played second base most of their careers. Morgan most assuredly deserved the HoF but so does Kent, whose numbers almost dwarf Morgan's (except for OBP). And yet, K isn't in the HoF and it doesn't look like he will be elected anytime soon. I've heard that he crossed swords with a lot of sportswriters and with some of his teammates (including Bonds) and would wonder if that's a factor.

    Any idea?

    Different eras, so Kent is less impressive compared to his era’s “average” player baseline? I haven’t looked at eithers OPS+.

    • Replies: @Prester John
    OPS+? Morgan 132, Kent 123--Not a big difference. Remember though that Morgan played for a team with two Hall of Famers (Perez and Bench) and one "would be but for..."(Rose), not to mention Griffey Sr., Concepcion, Foster etc. My opinion: if Harold Baines (or, for that matter, Craig Biggio) got elected, so should Kent.
  50. @Buffalo Joe
    a, On a long drive, without the wife, a game on the radio can be a pure delight, especially if the announcer has a mellow voice and can paint a verbal picture of the action. A good color commentator helps too. TV allows you to see how many pitches the umps call wrong.

    Agreed. Great to listen to on a long road trip.

  51. @Steve Sailer
    I don't do much else, so 12 hours is pretty normal, although probably more like 11.

    I sleep close to 8.5 hours per night, and it takes an hour to wind down and fall asleep, and about 0.5 hours to get started in the morning. Take an hour off for a walk, and now I'm up to 11 hours per day not at my desk, so 13 is my maximum per day long term, but it's probably more like 10.5 hours per day 6 days per week and maybe one day of 5 hours, so that would be a steady 70 hour work week, with maybe two weeks per year at half that time.

    God bless ya, man.

  52. @prime noticer
    it's still a good measure. it's declining because:

    1) pitching slowly and steadily gets better every year and pitchers advantage over batters is increasing
    2) really slow pace of play. the more the pitcher can slow it down the better he does and the worse the batters do
    3) the statistics decision which says all that matters is home runs or strike outs

    to increase batting average (in effect to increase the amount of action in the game) you either want to:

    1) speed up the game. this is the idea behind the pitch clock
    2) move the mound back

    nobody is ever going to bat .400 again, because the field of pitchers sucked back when guys could hit .400. there's old records like this in many sports, where one guy could have a huge advantage over the field, because the field wasn't as good, but nobody today can be that far ahead of the field anymore, so they'll never break these old records.

    1972 dolphins 17 win season is probably the most annoying. thankfully they almost never talk about it anymore, since lots of those guys died and we don't have hear about these annoying old football players popping champagne once the last undefeated NFL team finally goes 12-1 or 13-1 some season, in a league where those 1972 players couldn't even sit on the bench. shut up, old dolphins players.

    “the more the pitcher can slow the game down……”
    Apparently all the MLB pitchers know this. It’s maddening watching a pitcher bent over, pondering whatever until the batter gets fed up and steps out of the box. Repeated many times during a game. If runner on base it’s worse.

  53. @Johnny789
    Baseball needs more stats that measure clutch hitting. A guy hits 40 homers, but 10 of them happen when the team is up or down by 5+ runs, that should be quantified somehow. Hits to lead off an inning should get more credit. With all of the strikeouts now they should now give a guy credit for an RBI even if he grounds into a double play with the bases loaded. And so on and so forth.

    You should check out Win Probability Added.

    https://tht.fangraphs.com/the-one-about-win-probability/

  54. @anonymous
    1979 Pirates. Had a key RBI-single in game 5 (Orioles lead series 3-1 at the time).

    Yes, Madlock got a ring with the ’79 Pirates, but he didn’t win the batting title that year.

  55. @The Last Real Calvinist

    to increase batting average (in effect to increase the amount of action in the game) you either want to:

    1) speed up the game. this is the idea behind the pitch clock
    2) move the mound back
     
    MLB should try #1 before messing around with the proportions of the field of play.

    Also, it would make more sense to lower the mound instead of moving it back.

    It was the domination of night baseball that made .400 impossible to hit. Less light, harder to see.

  56. @Marty
    The baseball-excitement gap can be bridged simply by arriving at the game early. Consider this pre-batting practice exchange between Bill Madlock and Willie Stargell at Candlestick, 5/79:

    WS: "Smell that fart? Smell that fart? Eat that fart. What kinda car you got Bill?"
    BM: "Got me a big Lincoln."
    WS: Shit that ain't no kinda car!"
    BM: "Kinda car you got Will?
    WS: "Got me a Benz."

    Exploding bats would add to the fun:

    Why didn’t the Veecks think of that? Oh, yeah… “disturbing the peace”, BATFE, etc.

  57. @Keypusher
    “Sabermetricians like to believe...”

    Honestly, Steve, apart from being unworthy of you, statements like this make you look silly. A man would have to be really stupid to think he need advanced metrics to figure out that Ruth, Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle were great hitters, and no sabermetrician has ever claimed otherwise. If you have a quote to the contrary, please share. Otherwise, stop slandering sabermetricians.

    What sabermetrics did was focus on the relationship between what a hitter did and how many runs his team scored. And that led to all sorts of discoveries: walks were more helpful than previously realized, grounding into a double play was really bad. Power was more important, and batting average less important, than previously thought. Sabermetrics also looked at run-scoring context and park effects, so you could compare players in different eras. (One result of this was to show that, though Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were great hitters just like everyone knew, Ruth was clearly better at generating runs, relative to the league he was playing in, than Cobb. Another, incidentally, is to show that Mickey Mantle in 1968 was still a pretty good hitter, even though his batting average, homers and RBIs looked terrible by his standards.)

    No one needed Bill James to learn that Babe Ruth was great. But it did take Bill James to figure out that Darrell Evans (.248 BA lifetime) was HOF-level good.

    You can see this even with all time great power hitters. For example, in Babe Ruth’s 1923 season, his homer total dipped to only 41 compared to 59 in 1921. But he batted a career high .393. And sure enough, modern sabermetrics usually points to 1923 as his career peak.

    Wait, so sabermetrics work after all? Anyway, the reason Ruth’s 1923 season outranks 1921 (by some measures of WAR) is that he threw out a bunch of runners, giving him a really good defensive rating for the only time in his career. He had a great arm, of course, but since that’s the only year it happened I assume it’s a fluke.

    The other reason, besides his batting average, that his offense was so good in 1923 that he walked 170 times (career high) and thus had an otherworldly .545 on-base percentage.

    grounding into a double play was really bad.

    Which is why great defense is underrated. But it’s hard to quantify. But the Orioles won three straight pennants 50 years ago with the best infield of the day.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    By one modern measure, the 1960s-1970s Baltimore Orioles had the second and third best defensive players of all time, Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson, on the left side of their infield.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/robinbr01.shtml

  58. @Che Guava
    Baseball is just rounders adjusted by the Spalding company in the 1860s to make it more macho.

    If you don't believe me (re. macho), check the publicity material of the time. Cricket was still popular in the U.S.A. at the time, the Spalding adverts harped on the greater 'manliness' of baseball.

    Cricket is far more interesting as a game, in terms of both strategy, tactics, and action.

    Of course, until the recent celebration of soccer, baseball was also the national game in Japan. I have seen many of the surviving pre-WWII animated films, those with propaganda aims and sports themes always feature baseball or rugby.

    Cricket is much more suited to Japan, like a Sumo tournament (15 days), a top-level cricket match takes up to five days.

    I enjoy watching the baseball at times, particularly the high-school contests, but after learning about and watching cricket, I think it a little sad that it was not adopted instead. It is more suitable.

    Baseball relies on bands and cheer squads, like American 'football', beause as games, both are pretty dull.

    Cricket, both types of rugby, hockey (both hockey and ice hockey), even soccer (also dull, in a similar way to baseball) are not reliant on those things to be entertaining.

    I love my rugby (not rugby league though) because every Kiwi’s DNA codes heavily for love of the All Blacks – however if The Black aren’t playing the most exciting sports to watch are

    • Australian Rules football;
    • Hurling;
    • Gaelic football;
    • Rugby Union (if the All Blacks aren’t involved)

    Australian Rules is played on a gigantic surface: the MCG – on which the Grand Final is played – has an area of roughly 17,720 sqm, whereas a gridiron is 2,267sqm.

    The record crowd at the MCG was 121,696 in 1970 – when Melbourne’s population was about 2.3 million (at that stage the competition only included teams from Melbourne). The ground has been reformatted so that it’s seating only, and its capacity is now 100,024… which is what the crowd was for last year’s grand final.

    Key ‘on ball’ players normally run 13-15 km in the course of a game, a very large proportion of that at pace… and the average professional AFL player is 6’1″, 180lb and has massive cardio (an elite player will run a 2km TT in ~6 minutes, and the average beep test [shuttle run] result in draft combines is 13, with a top performance of 16 now being standard).

    The video below gives a reasonably good indication as to why AFL is among the most-attended sports in the world, and very likely the most highly attended on a per-capita basis – to put it in context,
    • 18 AFL teams play a total of 207 games, attracting a total attendance of 7.6 million in a nation of ~24.6 million (i.e., an attendance to population ratio of 30.9%);
    • 32 NFL teams play a total of 256 games and attract a total attendance of 17.6 million in a nation of ~327.2 million (an attendance to population ratio of 5.4%);
    • MLB teams play an eye-watering 2,430 regular season games; they attract a total attendance of 72.6 million in a combined US/Canada population of 364.3 million (an attendance to population ratio of 19.9%).

    And this is why – it’s worth the 5 minutes.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I guess it's hard to stay a top Aussie Rules football star past maybe 30 because of all the running, so it's become a pattern for Australian stars to move to the US in their 30s and become NFL punters until they are 40. These guys are huge and athletic.
    , @Che Guava
    Thanks. Enjoyed your post.

    I wrote a long reply to you, but switched out and came back without posting ERROR!

    So I will try to do a capsule, with worse flow.

    In the U.K., Oz, and France, the R.L. R.U. split was heavily based on social class.

    The strength of R.L. in France was destroyed by the Vichy govt. (which also had civil powers in the German-occupied zone).

    They stole everything and gave it to the R.U.

    Never rectified.

    Murdoch's Super League even had some effects in Japan. Some players were attracted and ended up in second and third divisions of SL affiliates, one such still loathes R.U., like me, working class origins, although I am more equivocal.

    I look forward to the cup later this year, and hope that the All Blacks don't win, not because I am anti-N.Z., just because it is too routine.

    Australia, a country that has no significance or interest in handball, is now a major power thanks to a tranny former AFL player.

    Basketball and soccer suck because foul play is too highly rewarded at the top level.

    Falau should play at the cup for Tonga, and those with the time should be pushing the idea. Surely must have crossed his own mind. It would be the best retort of all!
  59. @Desiderius
    The sabermetricians won the war years ago. You can come out of your bunker now. Steve’s trying to throw a bone to the savvier intuitives.

    The sabermetricians won the war years ago.

    They still have a stupid name. Measuring swords?

    At least the coiner of vexillology apologized for it, saying that he was still young.

    Yes, I do know where it comes from. That’s a large part of what makes it stupid. And if you’re into studying baseball so thoroughly, why is it “American baseball research”?

    I bet we could learn a lot from Japan, Cuba, the DR, Taiwan, and a few other places. Like, how does limiting the number of teams in a league to six affect the season? They see each other more.

    The Giants and Dodgers faced each other 22 times a year. 25 in 1951. Okay, they play 19 times this year, but at what price? LA has 0nly six games with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, seven each with Chicago, St Louis, and Philadelphia. They play New York ten times, but three of those are with the Yankees.

  60. @Kratoklastes
    I love my rugby (not rugby league though) because every Kiwi's DNA codes heavily for love of the All Blacks - however if The Black aren't playing the most exciting sports to watch are

    • Australian Rules football;
    • Hurling;
    • Gaelic football;
    • Rugby Union (if the All Blacks aren't involved)

    Australian Rules is played on a gigantic surface: the MCG - on which the Grand Final is played - has an area of roughly 17,720 sqm, whereas a gridiron is 2,267sqm.

    The record crowd at the MCG was 121,696 in 1970 - when Melbourne's population was about 2.3 million (at that stage the competition only included teams from Melbourne). The ground has been reformatted so that it's seating only, and its capacity is now 100,024... which is what the crowd was for last year's grand final.

    Key 'on ball' players normally run 13-15 km in the course of a game, a very large proportion of that at pace... and the average professional AFL player is 6'1", 180lb and has massive cardio (an elite player will run a 2km TT in ~6 minutes, and the average beep test [shuttle run] result in draft combines is 13, with a top performance of 16 now being standard).

    The video below gives a reasonably good indication as to why AFL is among the most-attended sports in the world, and very likely the most highly attended on a per-capita basis - to put it in context,
    • 18 AFL teams play a total of 207 games, attracting a total attendance of 7.6 million in a nation of ~24.6 million (i.e., an attendance to population ratio of 30.9%);
    • 32 NFL teams play a total of 256 games and attract a total attendance of 17.6 million in a nation of ~327.2 million (an attendance to population ratio of 5.4%);
    • MLB teams play an eye-watering 2,430 regular season games; they attract a total attendance of 72.6 million in a combined US/Canada population of 364.3 million (an attendance to population ratio of 19.9%).


    And this is why - it's worth the 5 minutes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMZYZcoAcU0

    I guess it’s hard to stay a top Aussie Rules football star past maybe 30 because of all the running, so it’s become a pattern for Australian stars to move to the US in their 30s and become NFL punters until they are 40. These guys are huge and athletic.

  61. @Reg Cæsar

    grounding into a double play was really bad.
     
    Which is why great defense is underrated. But it's hard to quantify. But the Orioles won three straight pennants 50 years ago with the best infield of the day.

    By one modern measure, the 1960s-1970s Baltimore Orioles had the second and third best defensive players of all time, Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson, on the left side of their infield.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/robinbr01.shtml

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    “Can confirm”

    - Bench, J.
    , @Reg Cæsar
    When the "Reggie" bar came out, one New York reporter asked a Baltimore colleague if that city would do the same for Robinson. His reply was, we name our sons after him.

    I can confirm this. About the same time I visited the Maryland Science Museum. One father called after his young son, "Brooks!"


    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lLO62LkosDI
  62. @Anon87
    Different eras, so Kent is less impressive compared to his era's "average" player baseline? I haven't looked at eithers OPS+.

    OPS+? Morgan 132, Kent 123–Not a big difference. Remember though that Morgan played for a team with two Hall of Famers (Perez and Bench) and one “would be but for…”(Rose), not to mention Griffey Sr., Concepcion, Foster etc. My opinion: if Harold Baines (or, for that matter, Craig Biggio) got elected, so should Kent.

    • Replies: @Anon87
    The numbers are worth an argument, but I'm guessing he doesn't pass the voters "eye test". And he was an ass.
  63. @Kratoklastes
    I love my rugby (not rugby league though) because every Kiwi's DNA codes heavily for love of the All Blacks - however if The Black aren't playing the most exciting sports to watch are

    • Australian Rules football;
    • Hurling;
    • Gaelic football;
    • Rugby Union (if the All Blacks aren't involved)

    Australian Rules is played on a gigantic surface: the MCG - on which the Grand Final is played - has an area of roughly 17,720 sqm, whereas a gridiron is 2,267sqm.

    The record crowd at the MCG was 121,696 in 1970 - when Melbourne's population was about 2.3 million (at that stage the competition only included teams from Melbourne). The ground has been reformatted so that it's seating only, and its capacity is now 100,024... which is what the crowd was for last year's grand final.

    Key 'on ball' players normally run 13-15 km in the course of a game, a very large proportion of that at pace... and the average professional AFL player is 6'1", 180lb and has massive cardio (an elite player will run a 2km TT in ~6 minutes, and the average beep test [shuttle run] result in draft combines is 13, with a top performance of 16 now being standard).

    The video below gives a reasonably good indication as to why AFL is among the most-attended sports in the world, and very likely the most highly attended on a per-capita basis - to put it in context,
    • 18 AFL teams play a total of 207 games, attracting a total attendance of 7.6 million in a nation of ~24.6 million (i.e., an attendance to population ratio of 30.9%);
    • 32 NFL teams play a total of 256 games and attract a total attendance of 17.6 million in a nation of ~327.2 million (an attendance to population ratio of 5.4%);
    • MLB teams play an eye-watering 2,430 regular season games; they attract a total attendance of 72.6 million in a combined US/Canada population of 364.3 million (an attendance to population ratio of 19.9%).


    And this is why - it's worth the 5 minutes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMZYZcoAcU0

    Thanks. Enjoyed your post.

    I wrote a long reply to you, but switched out and came back without posting ERROR!

    So I will try to do a capsule, with worse flow.

    In the U.K., Oz, and France, the R.L. R.U. split was heavily based on social class.

    The strength of R.L. in France was destroyed by the Vichy govt. (which also had civil powers in the German-occupied zone).

    They stole everything and gave it to the R.U.

    Never rectified.

    Murdoch’s Super League even had some effects in Japan. Some players were attracted and ended up in second and third divisions of SL affiliates, one such still loathes R.U., like me, working class origins, although I am more equivocal.

    I look forward to the cup later this year, and hope that the All Blacks don’t win, not because I am anti-N.Z., just because it is too routine.

    Australia, a country that has no significance or interest in handball, is now a major power thanks to a tranny former AFL player.

    Basketball and soccer suck because foul play is too highly rewarded at the top level.

    Falau should play at the cup for Tonga, and those with the time should be pushing the idea. Surely must have crossed his own mind. It would be the best retort of all!

  64. @Steve Sailer
    By one modern measure, the 1960s-1970s Baltimore Orioles had the second and third best defensive players of all time, Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson, on the left side of their infield.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/robinbr01.shtml

    “Can confirm”

    – Bench, J.

  65. @JimDandy
    I remember when Bill Madlock went 4-4 on the last day of the season in 1976 to beat Ken Griffey, Sr. (who went 0-2 that day) for the batting championship by 1 percentage point. He played for the Cubs at the time, and the Cubs were godawful. Madlock won four batting championships--were any of those while playing for World Series champs? I wonder how much better a high average player's legacy would be if he played for a dynasty. One thing is certain--he would have more RBI's and runs scored.

    Story about Madlock in a book about the ’73 Texas Rangers, by a sportswriter named Shropshire. At the end of spring training Whitey Herzog, the rookie manager, told Madlock, the AAA phenom, he was being sent down even though he’d probably be the best player on the Rangers. Herzog said, “these guys are so bad they’ll just mess you up.”

  66. @Steve Sailer
    By one modern measure, the 1960s-1970s Baltimore Orioles had the second and third best defensive players of all time, Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson, on the left side of their infield.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/robinbr01.shtml

    When the “Reggie” bar came out, one New York reporter asked a Baltimore colleague if that city would do the same for Robinson. His reply was, we name our sons after him.

    I can confirm this. About the same time I visited the Maryland Science Museum. One father called after his young son, “Brooks!”

  67. @Prester John
    OPS+? Morgan 132, Kent 123--Not a big difference. Remember though that Morgan played for a team with two Hall of Famers (Perez and Bench) and one "would be but for..."(Rose), not to mention Griffey Sr., Concepcion, Foster etc. My opinion: if Harold Baines (or, for that matter, Craig Biggio) got elected, so should Kent.

    The numbers are worth an argument, but I’m guessing he doesn’t pass the voters “eye test”. And he was an ass.

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