April 16, 2007


Why 100 Pitches Don’t Go as Far as They Used To (JOE SHEEHAN, 4/15/07, NY Times)

A key change now is that power is spread throughout the lineup. Whereas the game used to be divided into hitters’ positions and fielders’ positions, teams get power from seven, eight or nine lineup spots.

Consider the change that has occurred since the start of Blyleven’s career. In 1970, when he made his debut with the Minnesota Twins, the American League’s second basemen had a slugging percentage of .332; the catchers .391; the shortstops .347. The league averages at those spots last year were .395, .417 and .412.

There are no longer breaks in the lineup. Back in the 1960s and ’70s, maybe half the hitters in any given lineup could hurt you with their power. Now, any player in most lineups can hit a ball a long way if you let him.

Pitchers can’t let up at any point in the game, lest their less-than-best offering end up on some bleacher creature’s nightstand. The pennant-winning Detroit Tigers of 2006 had eight hitters with at least 13 home runs and at least a .437 slugging average — while playing in a pitchers’ park.

If pitchers are having to use more pitches to get the same number of hitters out, that would explain why they face fewer batters, throw fewer innings and complete fewer games. If the average effort per pitch is higher, because pitchers live in constant fear of the long ball, that would be an argument in favor of not only fewer innings, but fewer pitches. With so few weak hitters in the game, there are no soft touches. Pitchers may be working just as hard as they did 40 years ago, but they are seeing fewer hitters simply because pitching is that much harder now.

...a pitcher like Ted Lilly could win a Cy Young in the NL this year, being used to having to face the AL East, and Andy pettite, who's steep decline was covered by switching to the NL Central, is unlikely to keep his ERA under 5 this year.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2007 12:03 AM

The delusions of Sawx fans in April -- damn, its not even May yet -- are hilarious, year after year after year.

Psst . . . Andy's got a 1.50 era after 4 starts, two against ALEast teams.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 16, 2007 2:25 PM