Comments on: Pitchers with the best ratio of HR hit to HR given up This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Whiz Mon, 02 May 2011 22:13:13 +0000 @21 again, I looked at yearly numbers for AL and NL separately from 1950-1972 and NL 1973-1990, and I think the 1950-1960 drop-off is more complicated -- it happens for the AL, but not the NL:

Pitcher ops/League OPS in %:
1950 57.1 65.2
1951 56.9 71.5
1952 55.2 60.6
1953 58.4 64.6
1954 54.4 59.4
1955 63.7 58.7
1956 56.2 63.9
1957 55.7 60.2
1958 56.2 60.1
1959 51.0 60.7
1960 55.7 56.8

The AL % is consistently above the NL %, except for 1955. The NL % is fairly flat, while the AL % goes starts out above the NL % and comes down to meet it.

The AL % and NL% track each other fairly well from 1960 to 1970 and are fairly flat, with a slight dip in the mid 60's when pitching was dominant. The DH started in 1973, so just looking at the NL % from 1970 to 1986:

1970 53.1
1971 56.1
1972 54.4
1973 54.3
1974 59.5
1975 54.3
1976 54.8
1977 55.7
1978 53.5
1979 52.9
1980 56.1
1981 55.2
1982 54.2
1983 51.7
1984 52.6
1985 51.3
1986 49.5

After 1985 it remains flat, at around 50%. It starts to show weakness in 1978-79, and 1980 was actually an upward fluctuation, but the main drop occurs in the early 80's. Maybe a delayed effect from the introduction of the DH, as the older pitchers retired and the new ones did not concentrate on hitting as much.

By: Whiz Mon, 02 May 2011 18:55:13 +0000 @21, surely the 1980 to 1990 decline is due to the DH -- it might take a few years for the DH factor to take effect as better-hitting pitchers retire. A year-by-year list might give more insight there.

By: Larry R. Mon, 02 May 2011 13:34:21 +0000 @3

Pi are not squared...pi are round.

By: DoubleDiamond Mon, 02 May 2011 02:06:12 +0000 The Phillies are at 11 temporarily in order to carry 3 catchers.

The new 7-day DL for concussions ought to set a precedent for a 7-day (or even shorter) minor-injury-to-a-catcher DL. Teams tend to only carry two catchers these days. When any other player suffers a slight injury or discomfort that requires having him sit for a few days, the team usually can go without him for that length of time, with enough depth on the roster. But if it's one of the team's two catchers, they have to bring in another catcher to avoid being stuck with only one player for a position that no one on the team is really qualified to serve as a backup.

Right now, Carlos Ruiz has a not-serious-enough-for-the-DL condition and is expected back in a few days. So the Phillies sent down a reliever and brought up Dane Sardinha.

By: David Bilodeau Sun, 01 May 2011 13:49:43 +0000 My point was not that NL rosters have only 11 man staffs. It's clear if you look at the individuals that a reasonable person would assume to be the 11th or 12th or even the 13th man on the staff, you would find that he would be of much greater value if he had another way to contribute. Micah Owings is the poster boy for my argument, but there are most assuredly others as well.

By: John Autin Sun, 01 May 2011 03:13:41 +0000 Here is a comparison of pitchers' OPS to league OPS, looking at 1 year in every 10, starting with 1950. (I started with 1950 because that's the first year for which batting splits are available by position played, rather than by batting order spot.) For the years before the DH, I used data from both leagues; for the years with the DH, I used NL only.

Pitchers' OPS, League OPS, Pitchers as a % of league:
1950 -- .459, .748, 61.4%
1960 -- .401, .712, 56.3%
1970 -- .380, .711, 53.4%
1980 -- .390, .695, 56.1%
1990 -- .342, .704, 48.6%
2000 -- .381, .773, 49.3%
2010 -- .353, .723, 48.8%

(1) Pitchers' hitting has held pretty from 1990 to the present,

(2) There are two big drops -- 1950-60, and 1980-90. Since these are 1-year snapshots, there is of course the possibility that a year-by-year graph would look smoother. But, treating those drops (for now) as if they were real, and off the top of my head ... If Bill James's theory is right (see #20), the substantial decline in pitchers' hitting from 1950-60 might be traced to an increase in the overall quality of play due to integration, which was still just a trickle in 1950 but had reached full bloom by 1960. I have no instant theory on the 1980-90 decline that is worth sharing at the moment.

BTW, I did look at the "batting 9th" data for 1920, '30 and '40, even though they include pinch-hitters and so don't properly integrate with the later data. Performance of the #9 spot relative to the league declined from 72.4% in 1920 to 66.1% in 1940.

By: John Autin Sun, 01 May 2011 02:59:27 +0000 Neil L -- While I commiserate with you about the state of pitchers' hitting and believe that some improvement could be achieved, I'm also going to throw something out there for your consideration. It's a passage from the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract:

"I have a theory that the quality of play in major league baseball, over time, could be tracked by what we would call 'Peripheral Quality Indicia'.... Hitting by pitchers is a peripheral quality indicator; the higher the quality of play, in my opinion, the less the pitchers will hit. ... [I]f you track major-league baseball from 1876 to the present, all of these indicia, without exception, have advanced steadily." (emphasis added)

That quote is from the Bob Lemon player ranking, on pp. 876-77 of the 2001 edition. He puts "hitting by pitchers" at the top of his list of 16 peripheral quality indicia.

While we're chewing on that, I'm going to take a snapshot look at pitchers' hitting relative to the league over the past 60 years.

By: Neil L. Sun, 01 May 2011 01:51:12 +0000 @17
JA, who needs relievers when you have the Phillies starting rotation?

Johnny Twisto, I'd like to get to the bottom of these lower batting expectations for pitchers. JA mentioned them in post 8 also.

Whatever happened to a pitcher "helping his own cause"? Did these decreased batting expectations coincide with larger contracts in the 1990's?

JA has suggested in @8 that pitchers have more important things to do than practice hitting. Imagine a hitiing coach working with the pitchers.

I get trying to protect your investment and prevent injury, but it is still a batting order position and a potential source of offence for the team. Why just concede an out from the nine spot?

By: John Autin Sun, 01 May 2011 01:42:49 +0000 I actually agree with the gist of David Bilodeau's point, though.
I long to see Micah Owings and his career .293 BA / .538 SLG back in the majors.

And maybe we won't have to wait long. He's pitching pretty well with Reno in the PCL, with a 3.68 ERA and 3.8 K/BB ratio, in a very high-scoring context. (6.00 team ERA, .324 team BA, .942 team OPS.)

It's just his bad luck (so far) that he signed a minor-league deal with Arizona this year. The D'backs had a historically bad bullpen last year, but this year they've been halfway decent (4.01 ERA, 13th in the NL).

By: John Autin Sun, 01 May 2011 01:28:43 +0000 @13 / @15, David -- I checked the NL rosters, but I still I don't get it. Was your point that Micah Owings should be on the Phillies? They're the only NL team that's currently carrying just 11 pitchers.

Number of pitchers on current NL rosters, per
13 -- Brewers
12 -- Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Pirates, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Giants
11 -- Phillies