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The start of current pitching

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The start of current pitching

Postby LCBOY » Thu Aug 28, 2003 12:18 pm

I was inspired by some comments in another thread. The question:

Is pitching "watered" down? If so, why is it?

Many people think that the pitching is "watered downed", whatever that means. Now, when I hear this I ask myself is this true? If it is, how do we know it's true? I believe that the pitching is not as "watered downed" as many people think. The reasons that offense has exploded in the past 10-12 are varied and complicated. Pitching is only one small component of those reasons. I will expalin my reasons as we go along.

Let the debate begin! ;-D
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Postby PresHabib » Thu Aug 28, 2003 12:35 pm

For me, the reason pitching is watered down is not because there are balls flying out of the park left and right. Players are getting bigger and stronger and that helps hitters, not pitchers. Anyway, the whole thing about pitching being watered down is all relative. Back in the day, there werent as many teams. Therefore, guys who would not have been in the bigs in the last 50 years now are. Case in point Glendon Rusch, who had dennis eckersly say of him during a broadcast of a Red Sox/Brewers interleague game, "This guy has nothing, his heater is 90 and straight and hsi breaking ball might as well be on a tee. Anyway, with this many teams with 12 man staffs and minor league systems to fill, there can only be so many Pedro's, Priors, Schillings, and Schmidts. Not to mention the fact that relievers are used like nothing now. Starters dont go 8 or 9 innings every start like they used to and thus, the big bats in everybodys lineups are left to face guys who, in many cases, are pitching out of the pen because they are not good enoguh to start.

Most importantly though, pitching itself is watered down...not necessarily the pitchERS, but the art of pitchING has been lost. Hitters, namely guys like Barry Bonds and a healthy Mo Vaughn, have robbed pitchers of what is rightfully theirs, the inside part of the plate. I mean, pitchers cant come inside on anybody with talent anymore because they'll either get charged or ejected (Did you see that guy get tossed from the PHillies for hitting Vlad last night? RIDICULOUS!) They are left having to try to throw breaking balls over the plate to get outs and, have you ever tried to throw 15 consecutive quality curves? It doesn't happen. Remember in the late 60's, when pitching was dominant? Look who pitched then...Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale. They'd knock you over, get the ball back, then throw it back at you again while you were dusting off!! The second pitchers take the inside part of the plate back is the second we stop saying "pitching is watered down"
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Postby LCBOY » Thu Aug 28, 2003 1:04 pm

I know that expansion is a "popular" explanation for the watered down pitching. The agruement goes that there are more teams so now there are pitchers in the majors who would not be there. So, lets look at this issue. Yes, it is true that there are pitchers in majors who would not be there. But does this mean that they were not in majors before because they were not good enough? This is based on two assumptions. There are roughly 330 pitching jobs in the majors.

Assumption #1: There are only 330 pitchers that have major league caliber talent.

Assumption #2: The 330 major league pitchers are the best 330 pitchers avaliable

I believe both assumptions are wrong. If we add one team to the league, this doesn't mean that the new pitchers needed do not have major league talent. There are many pitchers (and players in general) than can play in the majors right now that do not. There at least 100 players right now who can play in the majors but for various reasons do not. Think of the top prospects in the minors, Cuban players, and Japanese players playing in Japan right now.

Could it be that the extra pitchers were not in the majors because there was no room for them. Remember that there are only a finite number of roster spots. In any industry, baseball included, there is always more available talent than jobs. Every year thousands of people graduate from college and enter the job market. Does this dilute the job market? No, it increases the competitiveness because there are more people competing for jobs.

One last note. How come nobody ever argues that expanison dilutes hitting? Wouldn't expansion also bring up hitters who "shouldn't be there"?
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Postby LCBOY » Thu Aug 28, 2003 1:10 pm

Pitching did dominate in the 1960s. This was due to many things on top of the pitchers. From time to time the environment of the game changes that tilts the advantage towards pitching or offense. In 1930 offense totally donimated. Koufax, Drysdale, Gibson, Marishal were great pitchers. But Johnson, Pedro, Glavine, Schilling, Maddux hold their own against those guys. Pitching inside is important but I don't think that was the primary reason that pitching dominated in the 1960s.
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Postby PresHabib » Thu Aug 28, 2003 1:20 pm

LCBOY wrote:I know that expansion is a "popular" explanation for the watered down pitching. The agruement goes that there are more teams so now there are pitchers in the majors who would not be there. So, lets look at this issue. Yes, it is true that there are pitchers in majors who would not be there. But does this mean that they were not in majors before because they were not good enough? This is based on two assumptions. There are roughly 330 pitching jobs in the majors.

Assumption #1: There are only 330 pitchers that have major league caliber talent.

Assumption #2: The 330 major league pitchers are the best 330 pitchers avaliable

I believe both assumptions are wrong. If we add one team to the league, this doesn't mean that the new pitchers needed do not have major league talent. There are many pitchers (and players in general) than can play in the majors right now that do not. There at least 100 players right now who can play in the majors but for various reasons do not. Think of the top prospects in the minors, Cuban players, and Japanese players playing in Japan right now.

Could it be that the extra pitchers were not in the majors because there was no room for them. Remember that there are only a finite number of roster spots. In any industry, baseball included, there is always more available talent than jobs. Every year thousands of people graduate from college and enter the job market. Does this dilute the job market? No, it increases the competitiveness because there are more people competing for jobs.

One last note. How come nobody ever argues that expanison dilutes hitting? Wouldn't expansion also bring up hitters who "shouldn't be there"?


To follow up, since expansion has increased the number of pitching jobs available, there is a smaller ratio of STAR pitchers. There is a higher percentage of mediocre (not bad, just average) pitchers out there. Thus, since mediocre guys are pitching more often, slugjests are more common, which leads to people saying that pitching is watered down.

Also, you make a great point about how nobody argues that hitting is diluted by expansion. I've thuoght the same thing myself but only secodns ago did I have an idea about it. I think i would have to say that modern technology used in the game is all in favor of hitters. People are on better training regiments which makes them bigger and stronger. Artificial supplements help guys get bigger. The ball itself supposedly is wound tighter. Bats are made better. Ball parks are being taylored to hitters for moneys sake. Umpires and hitters have taken the inside part of theplate from the pitcher. These are all the newest revalations in the game and all are in favor of the hitter.

Also, lets not overlook the fact that maybe hitting IS watered down. We just dont notice cuz so many guys are hitting homeruns. The .330 hitter is SO much more rare than he was 30 years ago. Everybody (adam dunn cough cough) swings for the fences and, if you do it enough, despite plenty of 0-6 skids, the guys are gonna hit a home run every 10 at bats or so. Homerun hitting is very prominent right now, but that doesnt mean that hittin is not watered down. Justthat the pure hitter, the 330 hitter, is all but dead.
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Postby Lofunzo » Thu Aug 28, 2003 1:28 pm

IMHO, the reasons that offense has exploded are that:

1. Pitching IS watered down in that there was unnecessary expansion and not enough major league ready pitchers available. That and there are teams that can't or choose not to pay for decent pitchers so they go out and put minimum salary/rookie pitchers on the hill. This also allows the Yankees to have $6 million pitchers as spot starters, long relievers, or in the minors.
2. The ballparks are getting smaller and smaller.
3. The ball is juiced.
4. Better athletes, many of which are on the juice.
5. Pitchers aren't allowed the respect of pitching inside anymore. Either the umps or the hitters freak out if you do.
Last edited by Lofunzo on Thu Aug 28, 2003 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby PresHabib » Thu Aug 28, 2003 1:35 pm

LCBOY wrote:Pitching inside is important but I don't think that was the primary reason that pitching dominated in the 1960s.


It certainly helped though. It may not be the primary reason, but it was a factor. And it is a HUGE (and overlooked) reason why pitchers struggle to record outs now. They only have half, the outer half, of the plate to work with. For the most part, guys have had the inner half robbed from them.

Also, my thing about gibson, koufax, drysdale is that they were fear pitchers. For them it was about morethan throwing inside. It was "thats my spot, touch it I'll kill you". Hitters arent scared like they used to be. Johsnon and Pedro are certainly intimidating, though I would hesitate to say more so than the other guys. The other guys you listed, maddux, glavine, and schilling, though awesome, are hardly scary guys. Its just that the mentality of batter vs pitcher/pitcher vs batter has changed and naming a bunch of guys from each era on our part may be folly because there are plenty of comparable guys. Its more a mental thing, the way certain things are approached. Hitters today are protected in that they get to wear all that armor and pitchers will get ejected if they come anywhere near a guys head. Thereis no reason for them to fear anybody today like there was back then.
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Postby Madison » Thu Aug 28, 2003 2:16 pm

#1 reason that pitching is down------MONEY!

Players who hit .320 with 5 home runs don't get the big paycheck. The same guy who could hit .320 with 5 homers works out, bulks up and hits .280 with 35 home runs and BAM! Here comes the money! Players are not trying to get on base anymore, they are trying to hit it out of the park. Take Adam Dunn for example: What would his batting average be if he quit trying to hit a 600 foot home run every at bat? .240? .250? .260? He would be sent back to the minors and make no money. So he hits .200-..220 with 20+ home runs, they keep him up and try to help him get better, because of his potential to hit .270-.280 with 40 home runs. It's all about the money.

It used to be that ballplayers were not rich. Major leaguers only got recognition and admiration from the fans. Now they see more money in a season then most people will make in a lifetime. All they have to do is hit 30+ home runs and the money is thrown at them. Why worry about average? Power is where the money is at.

With 99% of major league ballplayers swinging for the fences every pitch (even if the count is 0-2), it's no wonder that pitching is not as dominant as it once was.

I will toss in there that most pitchers have lost the inside portion of the plate as well. Tough to pitch when you only get half the plate to work with and makes it a lot easier for the hitters because they know where the pitch is going.

That's the short and sweet version, I'll probably add more on this topic later. ;-)
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Postby PresHabib » Thu Aug 28, 2003 2:21 pm

I think we all make good points...it certainly doesn't seem like a very pitcher friendly environment anymore. It only leads me to the conclusion that, oh yeah, pitching is watered down.
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Postby LCBOY » Thu Aug 28, 2003 2:43 pm

Many people say that pitching is watered down but they have not shown evidence to support this conclusion. I'll ask people why they think there is so much offense and they'll say watered down pitching. I'll then ask them how do they know the pitching is watered down? They'll say because of all the offense. Isn't this circular logic?
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