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What if Baseball Fields Sloped Slightly Down from Home Plate?
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Baseball as a spectator sport has a problem due to sabermetrics’ emphasis on the Three True Outcomes: home run, walk, and strikeout, as opposed to old fashioned elements of the game like the one base hit, the stolen base, the sacrifice bunt, the hit and run and so forth. Amateur statistical experts demonstrated in the late 20th Century that most of those old strategies going back to the Dead Ball Era were obsolete. It made more sense to try to maximize home runs hit over the fence, because that also increased the number of walks given up by pitchers now scared of throwing one down the middle. The expense of increased strikeouts by batters was worth it because who cares.

Therefore, a lot of teams these days like the rich Dodgers and Yankees are built around the idea of putting 7 or 8 guys in the lineup who can hit 20 or more homers per season and wait around for them to do their thing. If they hit 3 or more homers in a game, their team usually wins, but if they don’t hit any, they aren’t all that likely to manufacture a win.

The Dodgers, for example, have amazed their fans by winning two straight playoff games without hitting a homer. The LA Times is now playing the current Dodgers up as suddenly being the second coming of the undertalented 1988 Dodgers who somehow stole the World Series from the homer hitting Oakland Bash Brothers (Canseco, McGwire, and other early juicers).

But the 2018 Dodgers usually don’t have that many rallies where they are getting closer and closer to pushing a run across home plate. Instead, it’s wait around for somebody to hit one out. American football is a great spectator sport because of the rising hope and tension of the drive down the field. Basketball isn’t as good because there is too much scoring of equal value goals.

Baseball has less of this kind of football-like rising tension these days.

As I explained in 2014, subtle changes in the playing area could advantage line drive hitters relative to the now dominant flyball hitters, leading to more action, more triples. For example, in most ballparks homeplate could be moved back 5 feet, leading to more long balls than bounce off the fence or are snagged by leaping outfielders.

More subtly, the playing surface could be optimized for balls to roll faster. We don’t want to go back to the rock hard artificial turf of the 1970s and 1980s that wrecked Andre Dawson’s knees. But it did make for a more fun style of baseball than at present. But groundskeepers could keep from overwatering the grass in pursuit of a deep emerald color. Golf course groundskeepers now know how to keep fairways both a beautiful green yet quick enough for tee shots to roll quite a bit further than in 1980.

One of the most exciting plays in baseball is when a live drive bounces between the outfielders and rolls all the way to the fence. Modern groundskeepers ought to be able to increase the odds of that happening.

More radically, baseball should experiment with sloping the field slightly downhill from homeplate to make rolling and bouncing hit balls go ever so slightly faster, which would give a modest advantage to line driver hitters who are being crowded out of the game by home run hitters. The Lords’ cricket ground in London has a slope of 9 feet to it, which sounds like too much, but what if a MLB field sloped down 3 feet from homeplate to the outfield fence?

One amusing effect would be on running the bases. Hitters would get down to first base slightly faster due to running downhill, increasing the number of close plays at first on seemingly routine ground balls. On the other hand, running from second to home on a single to the outfield would be slightly harder due to being slightly uphill. Today, runners on second typically score easily on singles to the outfield, but if they were slowed down by having to run uphill, there would more often be a play at the plate, which is one of the most exciting parts of the game. That’s probably my favorite play: runner on second, line drive hit falling in front of an outfielder charging in who comes up throwing to the catcher who makes a tag at home. For athletic beauty, a throw-out at home plate is way up there.

Okay, here’s a video of a whole bunch of attempted inside the park homers getting thrown out at home plate, which are more comic than the classic play at the plate off a single because they usually start with an outfielder misplaying the ball and end with the batter chugging out of breath toward home:

 
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  1. Que no hayan novedades.

    • Replies: @woody weaver
  2. Dtbb says:

    If you moved home plate back 5 feet then all the foul poles would have to be moved also. At Wrigley field for instance it just wouldn’t be feasible. A down the line homer would be 200 feet or so. It would be similar at all the parks.

  3. You’ll just have to make sure you have adequate drainage along the outfield fence, otherwise you’ll end up with fielders dropping back for a steeplechase. Then again, that could be fun too.

    • LOL: Desiderius
    • Replies: @Screwtape
  4. Klesko says:

    The Yankees’ wall should be moved back 20′. It’s absurd how shallow they re in RF. My high school had larger dimensions. It’s a cheap gimmick, and any HR records out of NY should have a giant asterisk.

  5. A fan says:

    I can’t wait to hear how Steve’s ideas would perpetuate white supremacy from Tiny Duck

  6. Lot says:

    I think a 3 foot slope over the entire field would be too small change base running speed.

    • Replies: @Dtbb
  7. Whatever, as long as it proves that blacks are inferior.

    (What’s with the off-topic? I thought you were the “blacks are inferior” uber alles guy.)

    • Troll: MBlanc46
  8. I’d like to see less emphasis on the playoffs and WS. Oakland winning 97 games and then losing its chance to be considered the best team because of one bad game illustrates the absurdity of it.

    The playoffs should be an extension of the regular season for the top teams. You keep playing one-game matchups until you’ve lost a total of 80 games, and the last teams standing in each league win the pennant. Then the winner of the WS would assuredly be the team with the fewest total losses.

    Or you give a big trophy to the team that won the most games total, on an equal footing with the WS title. Some years, the same team would win both, and that would be something special to shoot for, like the Triple Crown. The winner-takes-all folks and the total-season folks could have fun debating which is more important.

    I feel like the WS was conceived as sort of a fun exhibition that was never really meant to overshadow the pennant winners, but then it spun out of control.

  9. bomag says:

    What you said, Steve.

    Plus, let’s try fewer fielders. With seven in the field, modest hits become more valuable.

  10. JDG1980 says:

    Making the diamond off-level has the potential to cause a variety of issues. On the other hand, a mildly sloped outfield seems quite plausible.

    Do existing MLB rules explicitly require the field to be flat? Unlike most other sports, baseball gives the individual parks quite a bit of leeway in design – outfield dimensions vary widely, and always have.

  11. @Klesko

    Lou Gehrig and Bill Dickey figured out later in their careers how to pull the ball down the right field line for easy homers. When Gehrig was young he was a monster line drive hitter with huge numbers of doubles and triples. He hit the ball so hard that he hit plenty of homers, but that was more a function of how hard he mashed the ball in general rather than any artfulness at squeezing out homers … like Stan Musial, George Brett, and Albert Pujols. But Gehrig eventually figured out how to exploit Yankee Stadium’s cheap homer corner. Dickey’s career boost was even bigger. After years as a good hitting catcher he suddenly turned into a Hall of Famer when he figured out how to take advantage of Yankee Stadium.

  12. @JDG1980

    The 2nd Houston ballpark, between the Astrodome and the current one, had a deep centerfield section that rose uphill in pursuit of idiosyncrasy.

    • Replies: @D. K.
    , @ScarletNumber
  13. Dtbb says:
    @Lot

    Correct. Assume home plate to centerfield wall is 400 feet. A 3 feet fall would be less than 1%. I would guess most outfields already slope towards the fence 2 to 4% already.

  14. the pitchers have too much advantage now. better pitching > better batting. i believe batting average is going down 0.002 or so every year now. maybe part of that is due to players increasingly trying to hit home runs instead of base hits, but a lot of that is international pitching talent.

    so…why not move the mound back 5 feet? or something similar. to how football moved the kickers back from the goal posts. because they had gotten too good and they wanted to increase the difficulty.

    how much would each 5 foot backwards increment affect the batting average? do you lose 1 mph per 5 feet or something like this?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  15. On the subject of amending the baseball game, anyone else remember this?

  16. Another possible alteration that would decrease home runs and potentially increase fun is simply increasing the heights of outfield walls wherever feasible.

    That Mookie-in-the-fans interference call the other night was a mess. Yes, it’s exciting seeing a player reach into the stands to steal a home run, but when there’s no clean catch, the resulting morass of instant replays and rules interpretations that inevitably follows is a detriment to the game.

    I also like the play when a slugger rips one off, for example, the Green Monster, and then the first base coach has to decide whether or not to send him on to try for the double.

    Also, as discussed on a recent thread, taking a little juice out of the ball by raising the seams a bit would also help, both in slowing down batted balls’ speed, and giving pitchers more to work with when throwing breaking balls.

  17. “the Three True Outcomes: home run, walk, and strikeout”

    Ok, let’s clear up some things here. Exactly how “true” is the outcome each and every time? there are exceptions which apparently sabermetrics doesn’t take into account.

    HR: What about inside the park? The runner happened to get lucky enough to run around the bases, or the ball bounced around in the OF, and perhaps the CF couldn’t throw the speedster out at home, but instead the cut off couldn’t make an accurate throw. That’s not really a “true” outcome, but more luck than anything else. Without clearing the fences, the speedster can hightail it around the bases. This also is usually the one who can put his speed to go use on the base paths by stealing bases, by the way.

    SO: Suppose the C drops the third strike, or the ball bounces off his glove, or into the dirt, sails over his head, etc. and the runner makes it to 1B before the throw? Technically this counts in the record book as a SO, and yet the batter ends up on first with no out recorded. So then a SO becomes more akin to a passed ball type of thing, and yet, it still counts in the records as an official SO.

    BB: A hit by pitch (for the most part is not deliberate), and thus the runner ends up on 1B. Also, there’s the grey area of intentional walk, where normally the P wouldn’t want to walk a batter but was under orders by the manager.

    Therefore, within the supposed three true outcomes in baseball, luck does play a role. And for an outcome to be considered “true”, there cannot be any such thing as luck.

  18. @prime noticer

    They moved the mound back five feet in 1893 and by 1894 five guys hit over .400 and Sliding Bill Hamilton scored 198 runs. So, that’s too radical of a change. A lot of pitchers would see their careers ended by their failure to adjust.

  19. @Steve Sailer

    Hold it, hold it. Dickey also set the mark from 1928-40 of 13 consecutive seasons of catching 100+ games per season, a record that wasn’t tied until Johnny Bench (1968-80). Dickey hit .362 in 1937 and has a lifetime BA of 313, which is very high for a C. He would’ve gotten into the HOF regardless of his HR output. Gerhig, who hit 4 HRs in a single game (on the road vs. Connie Mack’s A’s), 2,130 consecutive games, 340 BA, etc. was also a lock for Cooperstown as well.

    Both Gerhig and Dickey hit to all fields pretty evenly throughout their careers. I’ve never run across that Gerhig’s swing was short or compact, (a la Roger Maris), which is what would be required to hit the cheap HR’s.

    For instance Ruth and DiMaggio took wider swings and tended to hit more HR’s on the road than in pitchers park Yankee Stadium. Straightaway RF when it opened was 350, which became 367 in 1937. Right center was 425, and then 407 in 1937.

    Point being would have to see some conclusive evidence that Gerhig and Dickey learned how to shorten their swings so as to hit more HRs, especially when such NY HOF’s as Ruth, DiMaggio, and Mantle never bothered to learn.

  20. @Steve in Greensboro

    I used to love watching baseball when I was a kid in the 1970′s and 1980′s. I was a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies when they had Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Greg Luzinski on the team. They won three NL East titles from 1976-1978 and a world series in 1980 after they acquired Pete Rose. Steve Carlton, if my memory is correct, was the last major league pitcher to throw more than 300 innings in a single season. I work at an NBC affiliate in Northern Wisconsin. We were watching the Brewers and Dodgers play well into extra innings. The game ended with the Dodgers winning 2-1 after five plus hours of play. Our sports guy told me the Brewers pulled their starter after 5 1/3 innings which shocked me since he was pitching so well. Brewers manager Craig Counsell seems to have a penchant for yanking his starters early. Pitchers like Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, and Sandy Koufax threw so well deep into games during the 1960′s with very low ERA’s. I don’t follow the game like I once did but my question to Steve would be, how would his proposal change pitching since the game has changed so much in the last fifty years?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Reg Cæsar
  21. njguy73 says:
    @Klesko

    The Yankees’ wall should be moved back 20′. It’s absurd how shallow they re in RF. My high school had larger dimensions. It’s a cheap gimmick, and any HR records out of NY should have a giant asterisk.

    Yankee offensive records don’t need an asterisk. No team does. There’s a stat called Adjusted On Base Plus Slugging which takes into account league averages and ballpark factors. It adjusts for the fact that certain parks are harder to hit in than others.

    For example, in 2018 Yankee Stadium had hitting and pitching factors of 105 and 103, which means “favors hitters,” while the Oakland Coliseum had 98 and 97, favoring pitchers.

    https://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/ops/

    P.S. If Yankee HR records should have an asterisk, then every Red Sox HR record should have an asterisk, a dagger, a section sign, and a pilcrow.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  22. FO337 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Incredible to me that they’d build the new stadium with dims identical to the old, but then the game has always been rife with superstition.

    • Replies: @slumber_j
  23. @woody weaver

    Reducing the chances of homers while increasing the chances of doubles and triples would let pitchers works a little faster and less on the verge of needing Tommy John surgery from each pitch thrown. Today, anybody can hit it out at time, so each pitch has to be perfect. But if you are less in danger of giving up a run on any pitch, you can coast a bit more.

    Back in the Dead Ball era, pitchers didn’t throw that hard until a man reached second base. Walter Johnson was the exception who just threw hard all the time. Today, baseball has finally thrown out all the traditions that were established in the Dead Ball era due to statistical analysis. But it makes the game more one-dimensional.

    Maybe I’m biased, but the optimal combination of entertainment, variety, and quality in baseball was probably post-1968 / pre-steroids. It had a lot to do with those ugly artificial turf stadiums with deep fences. But they accommodated a wide variety of skilled players and different strategies. So you had teams like the Royals and Cardinals built for speed, teams like the Red Sox in their ancient ballpark built for power, etc.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
    , @TK421
  24. @Steve Sailer

    Enron Field and Minute Maid Park are the same physical structure. The Astros just decided to put a fence in front of Tal’s Hill in 2017.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Dtbb
  25. @njguy73

    Park adjustments are a big help, but they still have issues with idiosyncratic differences in parks.

    Certain players are exceptionally good at adapting to their home ballpark. 1930s Yankee catcher Bill Dickey is in the Hall of Fame because he hit 135 homers in Yankee stadium, compared to 67 on the road: two to one. It wasn’t like he was drunk whenever he went on the road either. He hit fine away from home, but his hard hit balls tended to be doubles on the road, not homers. He hit 135 doubles at home and 208 doubles on the road. (Also, 32 triples at home and 40 on the road).

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=dickebi01&year=Career&t=b

    In contrast, right handed Joe Dimaggio only hit 148 homers at home versus 213 on the road. DiMaggio was a huge national star even though his topline stats don’t seem that amazing in part because so many people around the country remember going to a ballgame when the Yankees came to their town and DiMaggio did something great that day.

    There was often talk about trading DiMaggio to Boston for lefty Ted Williams since Williams didn’t fully exploit the short left field fence in Boston and DiMaggio didn’t fully exploit the short right field foul line in New York.

    The Dodgers played in the LA Coliseum football stadium in 1958-1961. Usually teams give the advantage to lefties by making right field shorter, but the Dodgers chose to play with a 240 foot left field and a tall fence, like an exaggerated Fenway Park. Oddly, the only player who really benefited from this weird setup was lefty Wally Moon who slowly figured out how to hit high flyballs to left: Moon Shots.

    The Coliseum was a terrible ballpark for young Sandy Koufax, who got hammered at home, but then became a legend the moment they moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962, which was 330 down the line and 410 to center, with Willie Davis to flag down seeming extra-base hits to center.

    • Replies: @Western
    , @Paleo Liberal
  26. @Klesko

    The Yankees had to get special permission from MLB in order to have their fence be so short.

  27. @JDG1980

    The dirt between first base, home plate, and third base must be level. The rubber must be 10 inches higher than home plate. The rubber must be surrounded by 13 1/6 square feet of level clay. In front of the level clay the mound must slope toward home plate 1/12.

    Everything else is fair game.

  28. @Steve Sailer

    Speaking of exploiting Yankee Stadiums short porch in right and the previous “Was It a Homer?” thread, October 9 was the anniversary of one of the most famous fan interference plays in baseball history courtesy of Yankee player Derek Jeter, Yankee fan Jeffrey Maier and Yankee fan umpire Richie Garcia.

    From Infogalactic.com

    On October 9, 1996, the Yankees trailed the Orioles 4–3 in the bottom of the eighth inning when shortstop Derek Jeter hit a deep fly ball to right field. Right fielder Tony Tarasco moved near the fence and appeared “to draw a bead on the ball”[3] when the then-12-year-old Maier clearly reached over the fence separating the stands and the field of play 9 feet below, snatched the ball with a glove of his own. While baseball fans are permitted to catch (and keep) balls hit into the stands, if “a spectator reaches out of the stands, or goes on the playing field, and touches a live ball”[4] spectator interference is to be called.

    Right field umpire Rich Garcia immediately ruled the play a home run, tying the game at 4–4, despite the protest of Tarasco and Orioles manager Davey Johnson (the latter was ejected in the ensuing argument).

    The Yankees went on to win that game and that series. Time will tell if the Red Sox will take their series thanks to last night’s call. I expect the Jeffrey Maier play will still be the second most famous fan interference play after the Chicago Cubs and Steve Bartman, in my lifetime at least, because it’s NYC and the Yankees rode that play to a World Series win that year.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  29. Reducing the chances of homers while increasing the chances of doubles and triples would let pitchers works a little faster and less on the verge of needing Tommy John surgery from each pitch thrown. Today, anybody can hit it out at time, so each pitch has to be perfect. But if you are less in danger of giving up a run on any pitch, you can coast a bit more.

    Just this. Taking some home-run pressure off pitchers would help the game in numerous ways.

    It would also speed up the pace of play because the number of monotonous three-true-outcome at bats would drop, and hence the number of pitches thrown would decrease, too. This could lead to starting pitchers lasting for more innings, cutting down the number of in-game pitching changes, and on and on.

    Everybody benefits, so long as enough fans realize that players like pre-steroids Barry Bonds are more fun to watch over the long run than players like Mr Potato Head Barry Bonds.

  30. @woody weaver

    Pitchers like Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, and Sandy Koufax threw so well deep into games during the 1960′s with very low ERA’s.

    Gibson and Drysdale were among the best hitters among pitchers. You never really had to pinch-hit for them.

    Koufax, well… that’s another story.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  31. Dtbb says:
    @ScarletNumber

    Did anybody ever run into the flag pole they had out there?

  32. “….Team speed, for chrissakes….you get f****** G** D*** little fleas on the f****** bases…. gettin’ picked off tryin’ to steal….. gettin’ thrown out….takin’ runs away from you….You get them big c*** s****** who can hit the f****** ball outta the ballpark and you can’t make any G** D*** mistakes….”

    -Earl Weaver. (From “Manager’s Corner”, probably 1976-77.)

    (and it gets even better when Earl talks @ Terry Crowley…..LOL) Obviously NSFW.

  33. Western says:
    @Steve Sailer

    They should have outfield fences that are the same distance, maybe 370 to all fields. 400 to all fields would cut down on homers. They couldn’t do 400 because of the way the parks are. It would even be difficult to do 370.

    A guy can hit one 395 to center and make an out, but another guy hits one 325 down the line and gets a homer.

    The Polo Grounds was a weird park:

    279 to left

    455 to center

    257 to right

    https://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/ballparks/polo-grounds/

  34. gunner29 says:

    No centerfielder; then you need two 100 meter sprinters to chase down all the balls bouncing off the walls. Probably force a shift to put both on one side of the field or the other. Then you teach how to hit the ball to the opposite field. I could do that in little league, should be able to do it with pros.

    There might be innings where they score 15 runs; on a regular basis. Of course all the record books are zeroed out and it’s a new ball game. I hate watching a defensive struggle, 13 to 10 is what I like to see.

  35. Some parks like the Ballpark in Arlington have a big green area beyond center field. My suggestion is to rip it out and just make an extra-deep center field because nothing is more exciting than an attempt at an inside-the-park homer, except perhaps an attempt to steal home.

    • Replies: @fred c dobbs
  36. Anon[183] • Disclaimer says:

    Slightly OT, but I was a kid who had no interest in baseball at all and thus managed to grow into an adult without knowing the rules. As it happens, a sequence of events led to my getting interested in baseball. I needed to learn the rules, so initially I bought a copy of them. They are completely incomprehensible. An alien just landed on earth would not be able to figure out what baseball was just from the official rules.

    I eventually found the excellent book, Baseball Field Guide: An In-Depth Illustrated Guide to the Complete Rules of Baseball, by Dan Formosa and Paul Hamburger. I supplemented that with books like Watching Baseball Smarter and The Baseball Codes. The latter was helpful in answering questions like, “Why do pitchers sometimes try to throw the ball at a batter’s head? And why aren’t the police called when a deliberate head-bean happens?”

    I finished off my education by scorekeeping a half dozen games from the stands using a system I got off the internet that keeps track of every single pitch. You have never concentrated on a game as closely as you concentrate when you keep score. You need to make sure you piss before the game, and then it’s hours of unbroken concentration. Despite my efforts, my score sheets had the occasional DNS, my abbreviation for “did not see.”

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  37. @ben tillman

    Many ballparks have the grass. All have some version of a darkened backdrop for “Batter’s Eye”. (Don’t we have Veeck to thank for that? I seem to recall a story that he would fill Comiskey’s CF bleachers with white shirts (standard men’s wear at the time, btw) when his best pitchers were on the mound. )

    But you are correct re: excitement factor. “Three True Outcomes” is pretty darn boring…..and is the last thing that baseball needs, fighting a “boring” perception already. I’m for anything that would encourage more small ball.

  38. @fred c dobbs

    The 1927 Yankees would have been even more dominant if they didn’t get thrown out trying to steal so much. They attempted one steal per game on average and got thrown out 64 out of 154 attempts. The 2018 Yankees got thrown out 21 times in 84 attempts.

    • Replies: @fred c dobbs
  39. @Western

    The Polo Grounds was a bathtub.

  40. @Steve Sailer

    What is vogue ebbs and flows, I guess. A lot depends on your line-up and how you build your team (cf Earl Weaver). I looked up “my” team since I was a kid, the Los Angeles-Angels-Who-Play-In-Anaheim, or whatever it is Arte wants to call them this week.

    In 1975 they stole an incredible 220 bases, while CS 108. By 1983 they stole 41….and were caught 39.

    Both years they finished @ 20 games under .500.

    And as the Angels are looking for a new manager…..from the OC Register a few days ago….

    “…When [General Manager] Eppler said after the season what he wanted in a new manager, he said one of the main characteristics will be a manager who has a “probability-based” mindset.”

    I commented to a friend: “i.e., look at stats. Everyone does. I don’t see the big deal. Though there ARE times a manager has to go with his gut. Eppler probably wants stats to drive every decision, and if that’s the case, the hell with it and just let R2D2 manage the ballclub.”

    • Replies: @fred c dobbs
  41. Ki says:

    It’ll likely never change. But I’ve long thought 3 outs aren’t the best number for an inning. The reason HRs are so optimal is that they don’t strand baserunners. But batters are stranded because steals are too risky and sacrifices impossible after a quick two outs.

    What I would like to try: 1 three out inning for the pitchers to settle in, and then the 6 four out innings. The home team would have an slight advantage, because they’d know whether to eek out a run or try for a big comeback in the finale.

    That would remove some pauses in play, and make comebacks less foreboding.

  42. CMC says:
    @Klesko

    Why not 200’ Basically eliminate out of the park homers. Everybody’s gotta run. Long throws. Cut offs. Plays at the plate. And, let the grass grow longer out there so the ball won’t roll too far. Maybe past ’ just make it all one big sand trap. Flies that far would just plop to a stop, but you might need to experiment with sand castle low level walls or moguls to prevent rolling.

  43. Your vision isn’t radical enough for to rescue the game for today’s young folks.

    How about if the batting team can send 3 or 4 of its own players out onto the field with the fielding team. They’d have their gloves with them. They would be permitted to field the ball from their own team’s hitter, but instead of putting him out they could throw the ball anywhere in play, including to the other batter-fielders without the ball touching the ground or throwing the ball out of play while the batter advances around the bases.

  44. @fred c dobbs

    And as I’m now on a baseball jag, one last comment re: Angels’ managerial search—-

    Also from the OC Register–

    The Angels have completed their first round of managerial interviews, talking with 10 candidates……

    Each interview has lasted eight or nine hours, which includes a written portion that takes about two hours, the source said. The written portion of the interview is intended to give the candidates more time to formulate their answers to situational and analytically based questions.
    ——–
    Is this the SAT or a managing job? Can you imagine asking Earl Weaver or Tommy Lasorda to take a WRITTEN portion? Can you imagine the response? LOL

    More and more I am finding that, so far, the 21st Century is a very strange place indeed.

  45. @Steve Sailer

    It is hard to compare HR hitters.

    Yankee Stadium was designed to maximize Babe Ruth’s homers, while Fulton County Stadium was designed for Hank Aaron’s dingers. I remember the early days of TBS seeing a game where Pete Rose hit his only HR of the year for the Phillies in Fulton County. In any other NL park it would be a double.

    IIRC, there was a HR hitter who signed an insanely low contract one year so he could hit in Wrigley Field. (Was it The Hawk?). When the wind shifts in Wrigley, fly balls turn into homers. Opposite when the wind blows in.

    The story was there used to be some gamblers in Chicago who had cohorts in Vegas. The cohorts would stay in a hotel room or by a payphone. When the wind would shift, the guys in Chicago would head to the nearest pay phone by Wrigley to call their buddies in Vegas to place a large bet on the over/under. They made enough to make a living that way.

  46. @Western

    Polo grounds had to conform to the Manhattan real estate.

    My father was a huge Brooklyn Dodgers fan, until the team deserted NY. He had friends who were huge Giants fans. The rivalry was insane. Two teams in the same city, a subway ride away, playing each other 22 times a year.

    One time in the 1940s my father was in the first row of the outfield seats in the Polo grounds, attending the game with a close friend who was a big Giants fan. The game winning HR for the Giants was hit right to my father. My father realized he could’ve turned it into an out and saved the game for the Dodgers with a little bit of fan interference. He decided not to. His Dodgers lost, but my father left the game with his honor and a full set of teeth.

  47. @Reg Cæsar

    Steve “Lefty” Carlton was the sort of guy who could hit a homer and win the game 1-0.

    He was 27-10 one year when the Phillies were by far the worst team in baseball. They won only 60 something games that year. Some sports writers tried to discredit his feat by pointing out that the Phillies batting was much better when Carlton batted. Others turned that around by pointing out that Carlton was one of the best batters on the team. That says more about how bad the other Phillies batters were than how good Carlton was. Still, there were many games that year when his RBIs made the difference between winning and losing.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  48. The easiest way to get more/fewer home runs, etc is to juice the ball or deaden it, but Major League baseball would never do something like that.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  49. @fred c dobbs

    The 1927 Yankees would have been even more dominant if they didn’t get thrown out trying to steal so much. They attempted one steal per game on average and got thrown out 64 out of 154 attempts. The 2018 Yankees got thrown out 21 times in 84 attempts.

  50. Rather than expensive changes to ballparks, how about tweaking some rules? From my blog:

    Mar 25, 2010 – Boring Baseball

    Baseball has fallen from first place to a distant third as America’s most popular sport. It is a slow sport with rare spurts of action. The popularity of baseball will continue to diminish unless rules are changed to speed up the game. Stealing bases is always exciting to watch, but rarely occurs because it is so difficult. The threat of stealing bases is always boring as the pitcher on the mound often spins and throws the ball to first base to keep a runner from leading off too much. They sometimes try this three times in a row while the crowd falls asleep.

    There should be a penalty for failing, so I propose that if the pitcher on the mound throws to a base and the runner is safe, like he is 99% of the time, the runner walks to the next base. This will allow runners to lead off further and result in more base steals, while speeding up the game.

    A second change is to eliminate the odd rule where base runners can’t always run when the ball is hit. If a fly ball may be caught, they must wait for that to occur before they advance. Why? Baseball scoring is very minimal, so let them run when the ball is hit and scoring should double. I know that baseball is dominated by traditionalists, but they should try these rule changes for a few unofficial games to watch a faster and higher scoring game.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  51. It would be more fun if a ballpark went full Montana Vortex:

  52. Mq says:

    The obvious solution to make baseball more exciting is to have fewer fielders. Say, two outfielders instead of three. That would put more of a premium on speed and athleticism, change the equation on putting balls in play vs home runs, and make for more exciting plays all around. Do that and move back the outfield walls to make home runs harder to hit and you’d be in business.

  53. @Carlton Meyer

    I know that baseball is dominated by traditionalists, but they should try these rule changes for a few unofficial games to watch a faster and higher scoring game

    Baseball is not “dominated by traditionalists”, or we wouldn’t have frauds like “divisions”, “league championship series”, “interleague play”, and “designated hitters”. It took decades just to go back to grass.

    And if it’s more scoring you want, visit your local cricket oval. Here is a list of record low scores:

  54. @Fred Boynton

    Derek Jeter goes through life having stuff like that happen to him. What’s the saying about generals: the most important trait to look for in a general is good luck.

    That was Jeter.

  55. Screwtape says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    You are onto something. Instead of a slope causing flooding. Skip the slope and just flood the entire field.

    Then freeze it. Then flatten the ball so it can slide on the frozen water. Give all the players sticks with big flat ends so they can all hit whenever they want.

    Buy the 36 now pointless pitchers a round of Bud and have them sit in the stands where they can get fatter without risk of blowing a rotator cuff.

    Put both teams on the ice at the same time. The rest will work itself out. Prolly be pretty fun to watch.

  56. “American football is a great spectator sport because of the rising hope and tension of the drive down the field.”

    I’ve had European friends tell me that they find American Football difficult to watch because of all the starting and stopping. I guess that’s a good point – a majority of a three-hour game is just the players standing around and preparing for the next play, which lasts on average around 7 seconds or so.

  57. Back in the day they really knew how to spice things up:

  58. @Anon

    You are correct that you would never know how baseball is played by reading the rules.

    Also, don’t feel bad about your DNS notation. Phil Rizzuto used to use WW for Wasn’t Watching.

  59. @Paleo Liberal

    There was never a year where Pete Rose hit his only home run in Atlanta. His last one there was in 1979, but he hit 4 that year. The pitcher was the redoubtable Joey McLaughlin, who went on to close for the Blue Jays in the early 80s.

    In 1980 he did hit only 1 HR, but it was in Montreal off of Bill Gullickson.

    Also, I answered your post about Steve Carlton and the World Series, so it seems like you are 0 for 2.

    Well, Andre Dawson did sign with the Cubs in 1987 and gave them a blank contract in order to do so. Dallas Green filled in $500,000, and got a bargain as Andre won MVP.

    Andre’s customary number 10 was being worn by Leon Durham, so he switched to 8.

    Well, I will give you credit for Dawson, so you are 1 for 3.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  60. @Paleo Liberal

    Still, there were many games that year when [Carlton's] RBIs made the difference between winning and losing.

    This is subjective, but I would say 3 games meet this criteria:

    July 23 at Los Angeles: Phillies win 2-0, with both runs being driven in by Carlton’s 2-out triple in the 7th off of Tommy John, scoring Bill Robinson and Willie Montanez. Time was 2 hours flat.

    August 26 at Cincinnati: Phillies win 4-3 with Carlton singling off of Jim McGlothlin in the 6th, scoring Greg Luzinski. Time 2:28

    September 28 vs Pittsburgh: Phillies win 2-1 with Carlton doubling off of Bob Moose in the 5th, scoring Don Money. Time 2:22

    As an aside, both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh were division champions that year, and Pittsburgh was the defending World Series and two-time NL East champions as well.

  61. @Ghost of Bull Moose

    A side effect of deadening the ball would be to literally make it safer for the batter who gets hit.

    • Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose
  62. AL. says:

    I’m in agreement with your preference to make the game more exciting and watchable. However, your suggestions would be very difficult to implement.

    MLB Rule 2.00 (“The Playing Field”) lays out a few very specific measurements, such as the minimum distance from home plate to the foul poles and the slope of the pitcher’s mound. But many of the particulars of the playing field are left to the home team, and groundskeepers throughout history have openly tailored their playing fields to suit the home team’s strengths.

    The challenge, then, is to either write your suggestions into enforceable rules, or to create conditions that would make it in the groundskeeper’s interest to tailor the field to your liking.

    A very gradual slope between home plate and the outfield fences seems like a tough rule to enforce. Unlike the slope of the pitcher’s mound, it’s not something that a visiting team or umpire could easily size up on game day to check for compliance. Even if a field were built with the required downward slope, a team could defeat this by cutting the grass longer in the deeper part of the outfield, naturally slowing the roll of a line drive toward the gap. If you set a maximum length of grass, I suspect groundskeepers would get greative by evading the rules or at least defeating their spirit (dirt is always being added to or removed from the field; some types of dirt or grass may be cushier and more deadening than others).

    Creating conditions that would reward a team for building the field to your preferences would also be tough. Half the schedule is on the road, so no club can build a team to succeed in a quirky park if doing so will put them at too great a disadvantage in all the other parks.

    Above commenters have correctly pointed out that the outfield fences at many parks can’t be easily adjusted, so that’s probably a dead end in the short term. Instead, I suggest deadening the ball.

  63. Sunbeam says:

    This is a marvelous article.

    Makes sense, and you present your article well. Personally I wish you had emphasized even more how freaking boring “The Three True Outcomes” are to watch as a fan.

    Really good. But this article could be picked up and run as is by a major paper. But none ever will, because reasons. A shame though, this is the kind of thing that needs to be talked about with baseball, because in 20 years or so they are gonna be hurting when the lack of younger fans to take the older ones starts to hit home.

  64. @Paleo Liberal

    “Yankee Stadium was designed to maximize Babe Ruth’s homers”

    That’s not true at all. FACT: Babe Ruth hit more HR’s on the ROAD starting when Yankee Stadium was built. Yankee Stadium was a pitcher’s park. HOF P Whitey Ford wouldn’t have lasted one season in MLB had the dimensions in LF/CF/RCF been akin to Camden Yards.

    Most HR hitters don’t have a short compact swing. They tend to swing long and big, almost like they’re trying to kill the air around them with one massive thud.

    Yankee Stadium’s dimensions for where Ruth would’ve hit his HR’s:

    CF: 490 feet

    Right CF: 425 feet

    Straightaway RF: 350 feet

    Even Straightaway Left CF: 460 feet. (as some lefthanded power hitters tend to swing in an arch that drives the ball slightly toward the left side).

    These are not in any stretch of the imagination a chance to capitalize on Ruth’s HR’s. If they had been thinking along those lines, the power alleys would’ve been more like 335′-340′. Supposedly when Ruth first saw the new ballpark’s dimensions he cried, as he was leaving the confines of the Polo Grounds (NY Giants home park during that era which the Yankees shared before Yankee Stadium was built) was more friendly for his swing. Although the Polo Grounds dimensions aren’t all that friendly either.

    FACT: It is a myth that most HR sluggers of that era tended to just peck the ball over the wall right at the foul pole, a la former little 5’7″ STL SS David Eckstein.

    Around 1958, MLB decided to implement new dimensions for all future built ballparks (which included shorter power alleys). The new all purpose turf fields build in the early ’70′s were the first to feature shorter power alleys than traditional parks had been.

    They are called POWER Alleys for a specific reason: That’s where the majority of a slugger’s hit HR’s tend to land.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Ian M.
  65. @ScarletNumber

    My memory may be getting worse as I get older.

    The HR I saw in Atlanta on TV was almost certainly 1979.

  66. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Yep. But the simplest, best change is the one you acknowledged upthread: get rid of the new, low-seamed ball.

    Why does this topic bring out the 8th grade science fair in so many?

    The one, simple thing that can (and should) be done is to return to the relatively high-seamed ball of just a few years ago. That may not be enough, but at least give it a chance before turning the field into something like GoofyGolf. Briefly:

    1. It has been repeatedly noted on this blog, most notably last year by commenter Travis, that the new ball carries substantially farther. Beyond the immediate effect of converting a can of corn to a dinger, everyone retools, not just general managers: batters swing for the fences, pitchers try to strike everyone out, and more batters are walked but disinclined to run the bases aggressively.

    2. I’m not aware of formal analyses, but have also read that pitchers who would otherwise (even in light of #1) throw an off-speed pitch don’t because the new ball won’t break as sharply. Another reason that pitching to contact is no longer an effective approach.

    Some faithful fans don’t want to see it, but the game is now home run derby. Instead of a replay of a spectacular fielding play, great throw, or close play at the plate, everyone here is fixated on an umpire’s judgment call about whether the new super ball cleared the fence.

    Maybe guys just need to nerd?

  67. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    The number of triples fell as ballparks were rationalized in shape in the 1960s-70s.

    Then The Camden Yard era (1994-) retro ballparks were given weird shaped outfields to add charm. In that video of attempted inside the park homers I posted, I think the 4th one clip shows the old version of the new post-Astrodome ballpark in Houston with that weird hill in center field, which represents peak quirk.

    Baseball is pretty much of an urban game going back to Alexander Cartwright, so nowadays baseball stadiums are preconceived to look like they were wedged into a tightly packed downtown lot.

  68. slumber_j says:
    @FO337

    I don’t think it’s superstition: the entire Yankees organization is built for that right-field porch. If you take it away, suddenly you need a lot of different players at every level.

  69. njguy73 says:
    @Paleo Liberal

    Atlanta is also 1,000 feet above sea level, which was the highest MLB city before the Rockies came along. And Dawson didn’t sign with the Cubs so much for Wrigley’s dimensions as he did to get away from Montreal’s rock-hard artificial turf.

  70. @Steve Sailer

    These days the kids who play baseball and softball the most are in the suburbs. City kids seem to be abandoning both sports. In many big cities the city is a wasteland for those sports, while the suburbs will have some of the best teams in the country.

    Although in Wisconsin it is often small towns out in the middle of nowhere where every boy plays baseball and every girl plays softball, and the parents in the stands take the game way too seriously.

  71. Knox says:

    MLB wanted more home rubs , thus they introduced the smaller ball in the middle of the 2015 season. The seems are less raised , resulting in less air frictions he thus higher velocity and more Homeruns. This is well documented and followed the NCAA changes in 2014 to introduce the smaller ball to increase homeruns for college players. It worked for college players and professional players, the new ball helped increase homeruns by about 12%

  72. Ian M. says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Maybe I’m biased, but the optimal combination of entertainment, variety, and quality in baseball was probably post-1968 / pre-steroids.

    Yeah, on the one hand you had the big power hitters who will always be with us, but you also had a lot of pure contact hitters: Carew, Boggs, Gwynn, and then guys who could do a bit of both: Mattingly, Puckett, Brett. There were a few guys who made a serious run at .400, most notably Brett and Gwynn (well, I guess Gwynn’s run was already into the steroid era). And then you had some great basestealers.

    On the other hand, are there any really iconic names associated with that era who transcended the game, like there were before and after? The era before had Mantle and Mays, before that had Williams and Musial, before that had Ruth, before that had Cobb and Wagner. And then the steroids era had Bonds. And the current era has Trout, who might end up being iconic.

    When people reminisce about baseball from 1969 to 1990 and say, “Ah, those were the days of…” whom, exactly? Aaron, Clemente, Bench, Rose? Great players, undoubtedly, but not the iconic status of the greatest of other eras.

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @ScarletNumber
  73. Ian M. says:

    American football is a great spectator sport because of the rising hope and tension of the drive down the field. Basketball isn’t as good because there is too much scoring of equal value goals.

    I prefer the NBA to the NFL. I think a big part of this is the court is so small for basketball, so you can see what’s going on so much more clearly when watching on TV compared to football. Another thing I like about basketball is that it is usually pretty easy for even a casual fan to recognize who the great players on the court are. Harder with football, where aside from the QB, none of the skill players is involved in a majority of the plays. Also difficult for baseball, because a great hitter will still go 0 for 4 sometimes.

    I don’t particularly like watching football in person. Too much downtime and harder to see. Better on TV, where they fill up downtime with replays.

    I do like watching college football. I think a big part of that is that each game is so important: lose two games and you’ve pretty much lost your shot at the national championship. In the NFL, you can often lose seven games and still make the playoffs, so it’s harder for me to get into regular season games.

  74. Ian M. says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Yeah, Ruth seems to have been a historical anomaly. From an article I think I’ve linked to before on one of Sailer’s old posts:

    In returning the discussion to Babe Ruth, it can be said that he defies rational analysis. Not only did he set distance records in every major league ballpark (including National League stadiums where he played only infrequently), he also set similar standards in hundreds of other fields, where he made exhibition and barnstorming appearances. Amazingly, many of those records remain unequaled, which is to say that Ruth is a true athletic anachronism. In virtually every other field of endeavor in which physical performance can be measured, there are no Ruthian equivalents. In 1921 alone, which was Ruth’s best tape measure season, he hit at least one 500 foot home run in all eight American League cities. There should be no doubt about the authentication of these conclusions. Despite the scarcity of film on Ruth, we can still make definitive evaluations of the approximate landing points of all of his 714 career home runs.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  75. @The Last Real Calvinist

    I hate this new baseball game. They’re not far off from just having a pitcher, catcher and batter. They’ll have “ghost” runners like we did as kids when there were only 4 or 5 us playing a baseball game.

  76. JMcG says:
    @Ian M.

    Well, my favorite player of all time is Jim Eisenreich. He platooned in right field for the 93 Phillies. Thank God he got to win a World Series with the Marlins. He showed up and played. I think he carried a .400 average into June in ‘93. It’s a shame, but I completely lost interest in the game a few years later. I couldn’t tell you anything about baseball anymore.

  77. Ian M. says:

    In my opinion, the sweet spot that MLB should shoot for is for a typical league leader in homeruns to have hit at least 40, and the top ten all to be over 25 or so. Hitting over 50 homeruns should be relatively rare, happening maybe two or three times per decade (except in the case of a genuinely all-time great homerun hitter), and seriously challenging 60 homeruns shouldn’t happen more than roughly once a generation. Having this as the sweet spot would make the 50 homerun mark a genuine feet, but not unattainable, as it likely would start to be if the league leader tended to be around ~35 homer mark or lower.

    For batting average, the league should shoot for a minimum league leading batting average of .330 (Yaz’s .301 league leading batting average in ’68 is way too low), and the top ~16 batting averages or so in the league should all be above .300, giving roughly an average of one .300 hitter per team. The overall MLB batting average should be no lower than .250 (shooting for .260 might be the ideal). The 2018 overall batting average was .248. Too low. It would be nice if the game were such that someone could challenge the .400 mark every once in a while. Brett in ’80 and Gwynn in ’94 make the season exciting. But there might not be enough variability among hitters these days to make that possible without raising the overall batting average too high. Although perhaps if the game were modified to reduce the number of homeruns, allowing pitchers to let up a bit as Steve notes, this could give the desired result.

    The high number of homeruns this year (1.15 per game) combined with low average is not a good combination. We also had a low number of stolen bases this year: a rate of 0.51 per game, which appears to be the lowest since 1972. That’s inevitable when you rely on the long ball so much.

  78. @ScarletNumber

    As well as the pitcher. There have been some pretty nasty incidents of pitchers taking comebackers off the noggin in recent years. Bryce Florie in peak steroids era was a gruesome example.

  79. @anonymous

    Some faithful fans don’t want to see it, but the game is now home run derby.

    Last night’s Astros-Red Sox game: lasted over 3.5 hours; all five runs scored via HR.

    As I write, tonight’s Dodgers-Brewers game: first run of the game = a lead-off HR.

    On it goes.

  80. TK421 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Steve, have you seen this article on increasing the size of the filed?

    http://thefederalist.com/2018/09/10/go-deep-a-simple-plan-to-rescue-major-league-baseball/

    “In Major League ballparks today, the average distance from home plate to an outfield wall is about 365 feet (332 to left, 404 to center, and 328 to right). It is telling that those dimensions are so close to the minimum allowed under league rules — 325 down the lines and 400 to center. The owners are deliberately making their ballparks almost as small as possible. It is far more than telling — it is screaming — that that minimum-distance rule was written in 1959, when the average MLB player weighed about 185 pounds. Today, the average Major Leaguer weighs 210, and suffice it to say, that extra 25 pounds isn’t fat.

    It is this physical asymmetry between ballplayer and ballpark that has warped baseball’s competitive incentives away from the game we’ve always known and toward the grim efficiency of the TTO. Keeping the fields the same size all these years while players got stronger and faster was like letting older and older teenagers continue to play on Little League fields.”

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @anonymous
  81. @TK421

    Tournament golf courses today are about 5 to 10% longer than in 1975 in an attempt to keep scoring standards (e.g., a 68 is a good score) fairly consistent. So that would be like centerfield being expanded from 400 feet to 430. Golf, though, has had more technological improvement in clubs and balls, so it’s not just that current golfers work out more (although they do).

    Dodger Stadium was 410 feet to center from 1962-1968 with a 10 foot wall. In 1969 it was shrunk to about 400 feet, in 1973 the wall was reduced to 8 feet. In about 1977 the distance to center was reduced to 395 feet, which led to a record in which 4 players on one team for the first time hit 30 homers. But the league eventually told the Dodgers to move it back to 400 feet.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  82. @The Last Real Calvinist

    . . . and immediately after writing that, the Brewers score five runs in two innings, all on singles and doubles. Good that they’re listening.

  83. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @TK421

    Has anyone seen Occam’s razor? This thread could use a shave.

    I repeat, for the next time: Why not return to the relatively high-seamed ball in use a few years ago, and go from there? If that’s not enough, then the ball could be slightly deadened further.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  84. @Ian M.

    When people reminisce about baseball from 1969 to 1990 and say, “Ah, those were the days of…” whom, exactly? Aaron, Clemente, Bench, Rose?

    Wade Boggs
    George Brett
    Lou Brock
    Rod Carew
    Steve Carlton
    Dennis Eckersley
    Tony Gwynn
    Reggie
    Willie McCovey
    Paul Molitor
    Joe Morgan
    Eddie Murray
    Jim Palmer
    Kirby Puckett
    Nolan Ryan
    Mike Schmidt
    Tom Seaver
    Ozzie
    Dave Winfield
    Yaz
    Robin Yount

  85. @anonymous

    The seams on the baseball were reduced a few years ago, probably at the 2015 All-Star Break (according to Justin Verlander of the Astros, who has held a lot of baseballs in his time), because of a collapse in offense in 2013-2014 that led to 2014 having the fewest runs per game since the short season of 1981.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/bat.shtml

    There seemed to be a feeling that pitching was becoming too dominant due to smarter use of pitchers (or whatever). The new baseballs seem to fly straighter and further. But, combined with sabermetric innovations like extreme shifts personalized for each hitter, that leads to offenses being more geared toward homers.

    My idea of sloping the field down probably isn’t a good one because 3 feet of slope would be the equivalent of cutting the outfield fence from 8 feet to 5 feet (I think — am I doing this right?), which would cause more homers.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  86. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Thank you for this additional information. Accepting that explanation for purposes of this discussion,

    1. The industry still needs to recognize that this was not the way to go because of the various, (presumably) unintended effects I won’t repeat.

    2. Equating “collapse in offense” with fewer runs overlooks the batter who lays down a bunt, goes first-to-third on a subsequent single to right (despite a nice throw and near tag), but is stranded when the pitcher bears down for a K and an infield popup, and then grounds out the last batter.

    3. Shouldn’t batters (and managers) have been expected to work harder and innovate to score runs off of better pitchers? Maybe work together to scratch out a run?

    I remain convinced, however, that the industry prefers the game as now reconstructed. Anecdotal, but before I was Boycotting Ba$hball MLB plugged some sandbox video game in an annoying ad that I had to watch before viewing highlights from the real games I had enjoyed on the radio. The cartoon batter was not only musclebound, but hit a ball that was shown flying 1,500 feet or some such. (He may be in a camouflaged uniform by now, and launching one half a mile.) Another example of a culture that venerates the powerful and cultivates an atomizing, selfish experience.

    Thank you (and others like The Last Real Calvinist) for taking the time to consider and discuss this with me.

  87. @Steve Sailer

    The number of triples had severely decreased since the introduction of the lively ball during the early ’20′s. Generally speaking, except for wide outfields during the dead ball era and early lively area (ca. 1900-45), the only type of hitter who could consistently belt numerous triples per season would’ve been (and still are) the speedsters. Carl Crawford, for example, could have easily hit more inside the park HR’s had the outfields been farther from home plate. Crawford did have a few steals of home during last decade.

    Each park, pre-60′s/70′s symmetrical cookie cutter shaped parks, were built differently. No two parks from 1900-late fifties were similar. That’s what gave MLB a distinctive charm. Each team had control over their own park and its dimensions.

    Someone like Bill James, needless to say, would not consider this appropriate, as the three “true” outcomes can’t be accurately measured across the league with different dimensions from park to park.

  88. @Ian M.

    And that’s why during the 20th century, Babe Ruth is considered to be the greatest MLB player to ever set foot on the baseball field. Period.

    In this instance, the fans got it right. Ruth is the greatest, end of story.

  89. @Steve Sailer

    One way perhaps not widely discussed. If you want the ball parks changed and reduce a bit of the total numbers of HRs per year, uh, move the fences farther back.

    example for averages:

    Make the power alleys 395′; CF about 450′, and LF/RF at foul poles at about 400′.

    See how fewer HR’s per season are then hit.

    NY’s Polo Grounds to straightaway CF was 483′. Venture that not too many HR’s cleared that fence.

  90. meh says:
    @JDG1980

    Making the diamond off-level has the potential to cause a variety of issues. On the other hand, a mildly sloped outfield seems quite plausible.

    Do existing MLB rules explicitly require the field to be flat? Unlike most other sports, baseball gives the individual parks quite a bit of leeway in design – outfield dimensions vary widely, and always have.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_Bowl

    Baker Bowl, also called “Baker Field” in the baseball guides, referred to one-time Phillies owner William F. Baker. The use of “Baker Field” was perhaps confusing, since Columbia University’s athletic facility in New York City was also called Baker Field. How it acquired the unique suffix “Bowl” is subject to conjecture. It may have referred to the banked bicycle track that was there for a time, or it may have been used derisively, suggesting non-existent luxuriousness. “The Hump” referred to a hill in center field covering a partially submerged railroad tunnel in the street beyond right field that extended through into center field. Outfielders would occasionally feel the rumblings of the trains passing underneath them.[3]

    In American gridiron football, you often have a “crown” where the middle of the field is significantly higher than the sidelines, designed originally for drainage purposes; however it seems to have become a “thing” or an expected known factor in gridiron football so you’ll have crowns even in fields that already have more than adequate drainage.

    In soccer, a perfectly flat and smooth pitch is preferred, like a pool table. This is one reason why soccer fans in the USA and Canada don’t like to see their club share a field with a gridiron team; one, there’s the ugly gridiron lines you may have to deal with when there is not time to remove them between games; two, sharing a field makes use of artificial turf that much more likely, and soccer players and fans very much prefer natural grass; and three, a crown on the field means the pitch is not flat and level and a pass from the middle to the touch line is literally rolling downhill. So that throws off that player’s calculation when making a pass.

  91. meh says:

    So what you are saying Steve is that baseball needs to be jazzed up a little:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWKJi3fstXo

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