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View Full Version : Why there will never be a .400 hitter again in baseball . . .



Shek
15 Dec 08,, 18:50
Is it because the level of talent in baseball is higher or lower than it used to be?

Mobbme
15 Dec 08,, 18:56
Is it because the level of talent in baseball is higher or lower than it used to be?

Pitching techniques are more unique. Look what they did with Manny in the playoffs, they just walked him

S2
15 Dec 08,, 19:18
Who presumes this fact. As the ol' sales adage goes,"it only takes one."

While a batter now faces a bevy of specialists game-after-game through a long season, we've seen guys come close. What I can't remember is if that was in conjunction with pennant runs. Sharpens the focus of the hitter and fights the fatigue that comes with a 162 game season.

Going from 154 to 162 games hurt, no doubt. More at-bats in a long, hot summer. Still, we're close but need more bunters. Guys like Ichiro or Carew before them will be the one. Run, control the bat, know the strike-zone but can stay healthy.

Tougher to do than anything beside's Dimaggio's streak but both can be done. We just haven't seen the guy yet...but "it only takes one".:biggrin:

gunnut
15 Dec 08,, 19:24
Pitchers are way more specialized these days. You have your starter. Then middle releaf. A setup man, followed by the closer. It is conceivable that a hitter sees 4 pitchers during the course of a 9 inning game.

It used to be the guy finished the game even if he had to pitch 24 innings on 3 days rest. Now starters get 4 days rest and they work on the average of 6 innings.

astralis
15 Dec 08,, 19:28
shek,

i've seen this economic lesson somewhere :biggrin:

Shek
15 Dec 08,, 19:37
shek,

i've seen this economic lesson somewhere :biggrin:

I'm teaching it as part of my sports econ class, but the major insights are actually from an evolutionary biologist :)

DiMaggio's streak will also be part of the course - binomial probabilities :)

Shek
15 Dec 08,, 19:37
Look what they did with Manny in the playoffs, they just walked him

But walks don't count as at-bats.

Shek
17 Dec 08,, 19:27
This graphic has something to do with the explanation:

http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/hbphide.png

Anybody want to venture a guess at what statistic is being plotted?

Albany Rifles
17 Dec 08,, 19:57
This graphic has something to do with the explanation:

http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/hbphide.png

Anybody want to venture a guess at what statistic is being plotted?


Increase of ERA during the live ball era?

BTW, I didn't htink thsi was a quiz thread!:)

I don't see it happening...combination of increase in athleticism of fielders, situational pitching changes, etc.

And as for length of season...don't forget Teddy Ballgame was sitting on .3995 going into the last day of the season in 1941...a double header. He could ahve sat it out and gotten .400 by rounding up. Played both games and went 6 for 8, finishing .406.

gunnut
17 Dec 08,, 20:01
This graphic has something to do with the explanation:


Anybody want to venture a guess at what statistic is being plotted?

Number of home runs per at bat?

Shek
17 Dec 08,, 20:08
Increase of ERA during the live ball era?

ERA looks somewhat similar, but it's certainly not as dramatic as an increase in the 90s. Go fish :))

Shek
17 Dec 08,, 20:08
Number of home runs per at bat?

Go fish :))

gunnut
17 Dec 08,, 20:21
Go fish :))

The balls was juiced...I tells ya...

Shek
17 Dec 08,, 20:27
The balls was juiced...I tells ya...

The graph was a plot of the hit by pitch rate (per plate appearance). It does correlate fairly well with the home run rate (per plate appearance), but the relationship there isn't a strong causal one (i.e., there will be some additional HBP after a home run, but that's only a small explanation for HBP).

http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/hrhbp.png

Instead, what you had in the 1990s was two separate expansions that diluted the talent pool. The marginal pitchers entering the league have less control (which is why they were only AAA players before) and so we should see more HBP. Additionally, stronger hitters, when facing these marginal pitchers, will hit better (both in terms of percentage and also in terms of slugging), and so we'd expect to see more home runs.

gunnut
17 Dec 08,, 20:40
The graph was a plot of the hit by pitch rate (per plate appearance). It does correlate fairly well with the home run rate (per plate appearance), but the relationship there isn't a strong causal one (i.e., there will be some additional HBP after a home run, but that's only a small explanation for HBP).

Instead, what you had in the 1990s was two separate expansions that diluted the talent pool. The marginal pitchers entering the league have less control (which is why they were only AAA players before) and so we should see more HBP. Additionally, stronger hitters, when facing these marginal pitchers, will hit better (both in terms of percentage and also in terms of slugging), and so we'd expect to see more home runs.

Hockey has the same problem with goalies. There are only so many starting goalies who can withstand the rigors of playing 60+ games a season and the mental toughness for it. That's why you see today more than half the teams have no clear cut #1 goalies. Kings went throught 7 goalies last season.

But the interesting thing is the offensive talent is also diluted. The defense stayed the the same (there's a saying in baseball, you can teach defense but offense is talent), some say got better. So the scoring is actually down.

Albany Rifles
17 Dec 08,, 20:49
The graph was a plot of the hit by pitch rate (per plate appearance). It does correlate fairly well with the home run rate (per plate appearance), but the relationship there isn't a strong causal one (i.e., there will be some additional HBP after a home run, but that's only a small explanation for HBP).

http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/hrhbp.png

Instead, what you had in the 1990s was two separate expansions that diluted the talent pool. The marginal pitchers entering the league have less control (which is why they were only AAA players before) and so we should see more HBP. Additionally, stronger hitters, when facing these marginal pitchers, will hit better (both in terms of percentage and also in terms of slugging), and so we'd expect to see more home runs.



You are SUCH a numbers nerd!!!!;):biggrin:

Shek
18 Dec 08,, 03:22
You are SUCH a numbers nerd!!!!;):biggrin:

Don't be hating the mad graphing skillz :))

For the record, I pulled the graphs from here: http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/index.php/2006/05/pictures-of-deception/. However, I did actually replicate the graphs last night as I was preparing some material for next semester :)

Shek
18 Dec 08,, 04:08
Instead, what you had in the 1990s was two separate expansions that diluted the talent pool. The marginal pitchers entering the league have less control (which is why they were only AAA players before) and so we should see more HBP. Additionally, stronger hitters, when facing these marginal pitchers, will hit better (both in terms of percentage and also in terms of slugging), and so we'd expect to see more home runs.

Now back to the missing .400 hitter. The 1920s were the last time that we've seen multiple hitters, and Ted Williams was the last player to hit .400 in 1941. Since that time, we've seen a huge increase in the US population, the integration of baseball, an influx of Latin American players and some Japanese players. All of this means that the talent pool has greatly increased over time. While the greatest players probably aren't that much better than greats of the past, the least of players in the league will be much better than the lesser players of yesteryear. Thus, the dispersion in talent levels between the best and worse will have decreased, meaning that the best batters no longer have some very easy pitchers out there to hit off of and pad their batting average.

The league expansion to a degree rolls back the clock in terms of increasing talent dispersion, and so we see some increasing performance among the best.

Back to gunnut's point - there may be a difference in the way that league expansion affects both sides of the equation (offense/defense), and so we may see the scales tip towards one side during these periods until equilibrium can be reestablished.

Can Scot
20 Dec 08,, 23:54
I think in order to see another 400 hitter you will need to see alot of things fall into place for that hitter. He would need to be a spray hitter with speed like Carew, maybe a bit more power though. Being a good bunter would help too. He will probably have to play most of his games on artificial turf, stay away from injuries, maybe play in the AL. Being a DH would save a lot of wear and tear. Being a switch hitter might be an advantage. Having 1 or 2 very good hitters behind him and maybe a good on base hitter that can steal bases in front of him would be good too.It would still be tough with all the specialized pitching though, i.e. closer,set up man, long relief. Playing most of his games in a dome to stay out of the heat might be good also.

gunnut
22 Dec 08,, 20:25
I still say the advent of specialized pitching is why we have not seen a 400 hitter in a long time. A good hitter will see a bunch of specialists during the season instead of the same old 8 starting pitchers in his division going the distance on 3 days rest.

gunnut
22 Dec 08,, 20:27
Don't be hating the mad graphing skillz :))

I see you are well versed in 1337 sp34k. Are you a h4x0r too? :biggrin:

Shek
02 Jan 09,, 13:40
I still say the advent of specialized pitching is why we have not seen a 400 hitter in a long time. A good hitter will see a bunch of specialists during the season instead of the same old 8 starting pitchers in his division going the distance on 3 days rest.

It'd be interesting to parse this effect out. This would require some highspeed Perl skills and spidering the Retrosheet database, skills that I lack :( .

Freeloader
05 Jan 09,, 06:01
Pitchers have gotten a bit better since the 20's and before that when hitters hit .400 easier.

In terms of recent hitters, George Brett came close, and Tony Gwynn may of had it back in 1994 if the season was not shortened. So had that season finished, we may not even be discussing this.

gunnut
05 Jan 09,, 06:16
Pitchers have gotten a bit better since the 20's and before that when hitters hit .400 easier.

In terms of recent hitters, George Brett came close, and Tony Gwynn may of had it back in 1994 if the season was not shortened. So had that season finished, we may not even be discussing this.

Pitchers are better in that they throw much harder. Ball clubs are obsessed with radar guns. There's a fireballer in Class A ball? Sure, bring him up.

I don't think pitchers today have as many pitches in their arsenal as the pitchers of old. Today, a pitchers might get called up from Triple A or Double A with 2 pitches and working on a 3rd. The 2 pitches he has are probably fastball and change up. He's working on a curve/slider. Back then, pitchers don't get to the majors without a reliable curve ball to back up their fast ball.

A specialized relief pitcher might have only a single reliable pitch to get people out. All he had to do is go through a few hitters until the next inning when the manager can make a 2-for-1 switch. Or he's in to face a lefty.

I forgot who said it, probably Vin Scully, that the pitchers always have the advantage meeting batters for the first time. The batters don't know the tendency of that pitcher yet. In today's specialized pitching, the hitter might face the same pitcher just a few times in a season.

Freeloader
05 Jan 09,, 13:25
Pitchers are better in that they throw much harder. Ball clubs are obsessed with radar guns. There's a fireballer in Class A ball? Sure, bring him up.

I don't think pitchers today have as many pitches in their arsenal as the pitchers of old.

How old? I was talking about pitchers from the 1920's and before that. Walther Johnson, for example, didn't get a curveball til much later in his carer. Cy Young thought curveballs were a joke.

gunnut
05 Jan 09,, 19:30
How old? I was talking about pitchers from the 1920's and before that. Walther Johnson, for example, didn't get a curveball til much later in his carer. Cy Young thought curveballs were a joke.

I'm talking about the 1950s....pretty much any time before radar gun. Back then it was hard to clock the pitches so less emphasis was placed on sheer velocity. Pitchers had to have control and at least a pitch besides fastball.

Shek
27 Jan 09,, 12:52
More eye candy for baseball fans . . .

Johnny W
27 Jan 09,, 22:27
There will eventually be another 400 hitter. At least I think thats more likely than someone breaking Dimaggio's streak.