Comments on: 2010: Year of the Strikeout This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Padres Awards Dinner | Ducksnorts Thu, 27 Jan 2011 16:17:32 +0000 [...] 2010: Year of the Strikeout (Baseball-Reference). I kinda sorta examined this issue once upon a time. [...]

By: John Autin Thu, 27 Jan 2011 05:43:46 +0000 @57, JT -- I'll agree that the '50s established a new norm for HR/G, as long as we treat the idea of "norm" pretty loosely. For instance, the average from 1967-81 -- a 15-year period -- was 0.73 HR/G, which is lower than any single season from 1950-66 save '52. And recently as 1992, the average was just 0.72 HR/G.

And while you're right that our "back-to-sanity!" 2010 season still saw a historically high 0.95 HR/G, that's also the same as the rate in 1961.

Taking a very long view, HRs have been rising steadily ever since 1920. But outside of the consistently low rates of the dead-ball era and the consistently astronomical rates of 1994-2009, it's really hard to say what a norm is for any given 10-year period in the live-ball era. (Although applying some sort of "deflation" factor to expansion years would make the graph look a bit smoother.)

P.S. Any theories on the 1925 spike? 1924-25-26 went 0.36, 0.48, 0.35. (And that was a year when Ruth hit just 25 -- barely half his annual average in all other years from 1920-31. If Ruth had hit his average 49 HRs, the rate would have gone from 0.476 to 0.486.)

By: Johnny Twisto Thu, 27 Jan 2011 05:02:52 +0000 I'm going to give the top ten in SOs in a few random years a look as compared to the average of the league.

One potential problem with doing it that way is that in 1960, the top 10 represent 13% of the league's regulars (assuming every team used 8 regulars, which of course they didn't). And today, that would be just 8%, so even if strikeouts are not more "top-heavy," it will appear that way when looking at a smaller fraction of the top.

Maybe look at the top X, where X is the number of teams in the league?

By: Johnny Twisto Thu, 27 Jan 2011 04:24:08 +0000 Click my name for a graph of HR/G since 1919, except with 1942-1945 removed.

Really I guess you could say that 1947 established the new power era. There were a lot of HR over the next 20 years -- when the 500-HR club was cheapened by the likes of Aaron, Mays, Mantle etc etc running up their numbers. The numbers became much more erratic 1968-1992. Despite everyone overjoyed that those awful steroids are out of the game, HR/G are still at historically high levels.

By: Johnny Twisto Thu, 27 Jan 2011 04:03:42 +0000 John, there was a lot of bouncing. But it seems to me the 1950s saw new HR levels which were consistently above anything done prior to then, and which remained the new normal (subject to variation of course) until 1993.

WWII complicates things. Between the lost talent and the balata ball, maybe it interrupts a steady upward climb in HR. Prior to 1934, there had been just three seasons with at least 0.5 HR/G, and one of 0.6. Then from '34-'41 HR/G were at least 0.53 every season. Post-war, '47 to '49 were all at least 0.63. Then 1950 was the first season to hit 0.7 (in fact, the first to hit 0.8), and after that HR/G never fell back below 0.7 except for 1968 and a couple seasons in the '70s. It also never went above 0.95 until 1993, except for '87.

HR and K have a connection, but there are a lot of other factors involved. It's hard to say exactly what might drives particular increases over short periods of years.

By: dukeofflatbush Wed, 26 Jan 2011 23:42:58 +0000 JT & JA,

I'm going to give the top ten in SOs in a few random years a look as compared to the average of the league.
One thing that sticks out in my mind, is Mantle was considered the SO KING. He even passed Ruth and held the SO title for many years, until Stargell passed him. But if you take a look at Jeter, he averaging almost the same SO per 162 as Mantle and he never comes close to leading the league and will pass Mantle handily.

By: John Autin Wed, 26 Jan 2011 22:24:59 +0000 Johnny -- It's true that 1950 saw a big HR spike, reaching a new high of 0.84 HR/G (up from 0.69 in 1949). But it went up and down for the rest of the decade, with a low of 0.69 in 1952 (with no change in team locations yet), and a high of 0.93 in '56.

By 1960, it was back to 0.86 HR/G, almost the same as in 1950. However, all other batting events declined significantly from 1950-60: BA down 11 points, OBP by 24 points (walks went down about 18%); scoring went down by 0.54 R/G.

Of course, 5 of the 16 franchises moved between 1953 and '58, so it's hard to untangle the park effects from possible changes in batting & pitching strategy.

By: Johnny Twisto Wed, 26 Jan 2011 21:29:47 +0000 f I was guessing, I'd say the top ten SO leaders in each league represents a greater percentage of overall SOs than they did 30 years ago.

I'm not so sure. So now we have some guys striking out 200 times a year, but the average full-time player strikes out over 100 times himself. Would be interested to see the numbers though. I don't have time to look right now but maybe later if no one else does.

By: Johnny Twisto Wed, 26 Jan 2011 21:27:21 +0000 Interesting John. I noticed a while ago that HR rates really increased around 1950. Perhaps this was just an earlier occurrence of batters starting to swing for the fences. And/or pitchers making more effort to avoid bats, because too many balls were going over the fences.

By: dukeofflatbush Wed, 26 Jan 2011 17:49:30 +0000 As usual, John you really did your homework.
I was only eyeballing.
But I wonder how much of the SOs (%-wise) come from the top 15-20 batters each year. If I was guessing, I'd say the top ten SO leaders in each league represents a greater percentage of overall SOs than they did 30 years ago.
So the 5 or 6 top guys affect the curve more than ever.