FanPost

How I'd like to see the game of baseball change in the upcoming 5 years



(For consideration of joining PSA's writing staff)

When I look at the game of baseball today, I think the one word that comes to mind is, defense. Today's game is much more focused on defensive strategy than it was in the previous decades. Case in point, where are all of the 40 and 50 HR hitters? PED's you say? Ok, sure. Let's remove roughly 20 to 40% of the HR kings from the 90's and 2000's for suspected PED use. You've still got quite a few guys hitting tons of HR's each year.

Where did they all go? Answer...Defensive strategies got smarter. Data Analytics took off like a jet airplane in the past few years. Moneyball is real and while teams are no longer searching for the golden god of walks to make a winning team, they are very much analysing every pitch, every at bat, every ball in play, to use against their next opponent.

Pitching has become more effective due to defense shifting. Outfielders now know exactly where to stand to give the team a higher probability of making an out. These aren't new concepts, but they have come a long way much quicker due to advanced data analysis.

Where does this leave us in 2017? It leaves us with a great deal more close games of 2-1 and 3-2. The bullpens today are much more focused on which pitchers can get tough outs in the 6th, 7th and 8th before you go to your best bullpen pitcher in the 9th. This is nothing new, but I think it does take a bit of excitement out of the game. When I was growing up, the HR was king and guys were hitting more of them. You didn't see 6th, 7th and 8th inning specialists on every team. You saw higher scoring affairs and you probably watched more baseball as a result.

Today's game is pretty slow paced, like a live game of chess. I'd like to see the game move to a mix of late 90's and today. Maybe a few more doubles, a few more HR's, a few less pitching changes, a few less LOOGY's throwing 3 pitches and then exiting. Maybe some rules saying a relief pitcher has to face at least 2 batters? Maybe you're only allowed 3 or 4 pitching changes per game? I don't see either of those coming to reality, but it makes you start thinking. Every base hit is a chance to put a run on the board and defense's today are getting so much better than the hitters.

The game of baseball is evolving, but maybe too much on the defensive side of the ball. I'd love to see more offense, and unless the rules change for allowing different bat types other than wood I think we're stuck with it for quite some time. You can take away defensive shifts, but I don't think that will do much to produce more runs. So either the data side needs to focus more on the hitting, or the bats need to change. MLB is playing with other things like smaller strike zones and putting pitchers on a clock and I think these could be modest steps in the right direction, but I think it will be a gradual change.

Maybe we'll see some more 50 HR guys in the coming years, but I highly doubt it. I think we're in for a lot more close games, with a lot of bullpen action. Until someone figures out how to hit more off of the available pitching data, I think we're stuck with slower, closer games for the foreseeable future.

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