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Postby PresHabib » Thu Aug 28, 2003 6:33 pm

blankman wrote:LCBOY- that makes sense, but I think you are missing the point. Disclaimer- this is not meant to be arguementative, just my opinion:

Having more pitchers results in the "watering down" of the ratio of STAR pitchers to average pitchers, not the talent of the average pitcher. I don't think it would be a reach at all to say that today the ratio of star pitchers to the number of average major league quality pitchers is more heavily in favor of the average pitchers than during other eras.

With less teams, a 4 man rotation and less of a use of the bullpen more roster spots would be taken up by the few Star pitchers in the league and thus the overall quality of the pitchers is better, since there are more Star pitchers and less average (but still major league quality) pitchers. So, today with the average pitchers pitching more innings than before, especially in comparison to how many the Stars pitch, the result is a "watered down" group of pitchers overall. That combined with inumerable other factors (better bats, shorter fences etc.) results in more offense.

Does that make sense?


Right...thats what I was trying to say but think I may have failed to do. I mean, even if you had only 4 teams in the league and the pitching jobs were held by guys like pedro, clemens, schilling, schmidt, zito, etc, and you expand a league to 8 teams and give jobs to other guys like derek lowe, miguel batista, ponson, etc, you have still watered down the overall quality of pitcher. Just cuz they don't suck doesnt mean you havent watered them down. Better example..you ahve 2 teams, whose closeres are gagne and smoltz...you expand two teams..their closers are foulke and wagner..foulke and wagner are great, but they are not smoltz and gagne. They represent a watered down breed of closer, despite the fact that they have talent. Its all relative, which is why an expansion of the league, no matter what, by default, results in a watered down level of pitching.
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Postby Guest » Thu Aug 28, 2003 6:54 pm

it's partly because of the game went from 4 man rotations to 5 man rotations. If you throw the 5 starters out, the pitching is fairly deep.
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Postby PresHabib » Thu Aug 28, 2003 6:59 pm

Anonymous wrote:it's partly because of the game went from 4 man rotations to 5 man rotations. If you throw the 5 starters out, the pitching is fairly deep.


This is a good point that you and blankman have made.

I also have a theory that Im not really saying is a reason, more like asking if it makes sense. If you watch tapes of pitchers from decades ago (not just the 60s, but 30s and 40s too), mechanics have changed. It looks like the way mechanics are now put more emphasis on the elbow. There is more strain there and thus injuries are more common, thus the pitch count is more important, thus pitchers are pulled from games earlier. When I watch old pitching videos I think to myself that guys push more with the legs and the arm is a more natural motion, while not taking anything from the pitchers stuff. Make sense?
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Postby LCBOY » Thu Aug 28, 2003 7:12 pm

PresHabib wrote: None of the guys that come in are bad pitchers...however, as their talent level is lower than the talent already in the bigs and the caliber of hitters they are facing, they get wiped. Thus...the pitching is watered down.


Ok. I'll start here. I don't believe this is necessarily true. There are many pitchers in the minors that are much better pitchers than many pitchers in the majors. Often, there is no room for them at he major league level. I'll use the Giant's Kevin Corriea. He was brought up to the majors because of the many injures to the Giant's staff. He was drafted in 2002 out of Cal Poly. He has pitched well. Including today's loss to the Rockied he has a 2.25 ERA. He has held his own. The ONLY reason he was brought up was because of the injuries to Reuter, Ainsworth, Foppert, etc. So if the Giant's staff had been healthier, Corriea would not have pitched in the major this year (well, possibly he may have been a September call-up). So because of circumstance a new pitcher has been brought up and he has not "diluted" the pitching in the majors. And Corriera was not even considered a blue-chip, top flight pitching prospect. A good prospect but not a Harden or Prior last year.

Also...I don't see the point in where you're talking about cuban and japanese players. Sure, i bet there are plenty of guys in those countries who are better than the worst pitcher in the majors. But thats not the point...their existence doesnt change the fact the guys pitching in major league baseball are the best in the league, which, again, is the justification that the pitching in the majors is watered down. I really don't understand this point...if you could explain it a little more clearly that would be great.


I was trying to counter the arguement that expansion ONLY brings in inferior pitching. There is great pitching talent in Cuba, Japan, Taiwian, Korea and if these pitchers came to the majors, via expansion or draft, they would not water down pitching.
I also think that the lowest-caliber guys in the majors who you say haven't been given a chance to succeed really aren't good enough to keep up with all of the other raesons we've stated above, i.e. all the technology references I made. Plus, they HAVE been given a chance to succeed, its called the minor leagues. I mean, no matter how many spots are availbable, they go to the best guys out there. The more spots you have, the more guys you have pitching, thus the more guys who are NOT pedro martinez pitching in the majors.


Well, there is only one Pedro Matinez. He is not the typical major league pitcher by any means. Also the guys that I refer to, the ones that do not get the chance are pitchers like Dontrell Willis, Rich Harden, Brandon Webb, Jerome Williams. These guys are talented pitchers and the only reason they got to pitch in the majors this year is because of injures. None of these guys were on the opening day rosters. Was it because they weren't good enough? No. There was no room for them. Teams are conservative. They'd rather go with a mediocre veteran than talented rookies.
Nobody is saying that these other pitchers are bad at what they do. But you can only have so many top tier guys. Somebody has to be the worst of the best. Take the tigers...they arent bad baseball players, but look what they are up against. Relatively, they suck, because everyone around them is so much better. None of them are bad, just everybody else better.

True. The Tigers are not very good. However, if the Tigers were to offer Bonderman I think just about every team would jump at the chance. He's a guy only 20 years and has never pitched abouve A-Ball. Yes, his record sucks and he is little over-matched at times but he has shown glimpses of brillance, also. On a good team I think Bonderman would have a .500 record. A lot of the Tigers problems is no offense.
There are other things I think I want to say about that 330 pitching job thing, but im not sure I understand it enough to make a logical argument. Could you explain how that number of jobs being available effects what the deal is with pitchers in the major leagues? I really dont get it. Does it really matter that there are better pitchers elsewhere in the world?


The fact that there are better pitchers out there shows, at least to me, that expanding and opening up more pitching jobs would not necessarily dilute pitching. In any job market, and pitching is just another job market, albeit a specialized one, there are always more qualified people that jobs available. Take for instance Ichiro. When he first came here there was some doubt as to weather he could play well here. Well he got here and played at the same level he did in Japan. It is obvious that he could have played in the ML probably at age 21-22. So for all those years there was an All-Star Caliber ML player NOT playing in the ML. Ichiro increased the level of talent in the ML. Same thing with Nomo.
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Postby LCBOY » Thu Aug 28, 2003 7:21 pm

PresHabib wrote:Right...thats what I was trying to say but think I may have failed to do. I mean, even if you had only 4 teams in the league and the pitching jobs were held by guys like pedro, clemens, schilling, schmidt, zito, etc, and you expand a league to 8 teams and give jobs to other guys like derek lowe, miguel batista, ponson, etc, you have still watered down the overall quality of pitcher.


If you have a league with only four teams with guys like Predo, Clemons, Schilling, Schmidt, Zito, they wouldn't be that dominant. We wouldn't consider these pitchers that good becasue they'd all probably have .500 records and high ERAs. With only four teams every team would have great hitters, (Bonds, Pujols, Giambi, Arod, etc). Facing those hitters all the time and facing a great pitcher in every start, even the "star" pitchers couldn't win 20 games in that environment. The reason Pedro and company can dominate is because they dominate the lesser hitters and lesser pitchers. In a four team league there are no lesser pitchers or lesser hitters.
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Postby blankman » Thu Aug 28, 2003 7:27 pm

The batters would be worse though too. The same logic applies- facing better pitchers= less hr, lower avg.

Its true, but I don't see how that pertains to the arguement that pitching is watered down and how it supports your points.
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Postby Lofunzo » Thu Aug 28, 2003 7:37 pm

LCBOY wrote:Several of you have suggested plausible theories. Now the question is, does the data or stats confirm the theories. Now everyone assumes that expansion brings in more bad pitchers. I am not sure this is true. I made a statement earlier that there are many good pitchers out there who are currently not playing in the majors (minor leagues, Cuban and Japanese players). In theory expansion can bring in inferior players but if only if the following is true (assuming there are 330 major league pitching spots):

1) There are ONLY 330 pitchers with major league caliber talent and skill
2) The 330 pitchers already in the majors are the BEST 330 available pitchers in the world.

It is obvious that both are false. Expansion opens up spots for pitchers that have the talent to succeed but have not been given the chance for whatever reason.


If there are 330 pitcher spots in MLB NOW, than there were less before expansion, right? It is obvious to me that if there used to be 300 (arbitrary number) pitchers and now there are 330, then all of those new 30 can't be good/great. That, combined with the other reasons that I stated earlier, are the main reasons why offense has taken off. I don't see how you can say that if the number of teams and players on those teams increases that the number of bad players in the league won't also increase. IMHO, your 2 points above are shortsighted. I believe that in an ideal world, the best 330 pitchers in the world would be in the majors but that isn't the case because:

1. Teams don't want to spend the money to scout players around the world. It has gotten better but it is nowhere near what it should be.
2. Teams don't want to spend the money for players. If you have the 320th best pitcher out there, do you think that a team like Milwaukee will pay him $4 million or would they just pay some rookie $250K for some on the job training.

If you have other reasons why the single season HR record stood for decades only to be broken twice within a few years, please let me know.
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Postby ramble2 » Thu Aug 28, 2003 7:46 pm

Great post! ;-D

I have just a few points to add.

1. First of all, what is meant by watered down? I hear this a lot, but I'm not entirely sure what it means. I think a lot of disagreements on this topic turn on what is meant by watered down.

If watered down means that the average pitcher today is not as good as the average pitcher of yesterday, there might be a statistical explanation of this. (And, I think, it also might simply be a perception that does not reflect any underlying real trend.)

50 years ago there were less pitchers in the league. That means that there was a smaller sample size from year to year to measure things like ERA, WHIP, or simply 'quality'. You would expect there to be greater movement from year to year in the measure of these things with a smaller sample size than measuring these same things in a greater sample size.

Today we have a lot more pitchers. If we measure the quality of pitching as a whole, we are more likely to tend towards the mean by any measure. I haven't looked at the numbers to back this up, but I predict that if someone looked at year-to-year fluctuation of measures of pitching quality that they would see much less variation over time as pitching jobs increased.

More pitchers also means that when a guy like Loaiza has a anomalous improvement, it has a much smaller effect on our overall perception of pitching quality than it would had he had this anomalous performance 40 years ago.

Also, with fewer pitchers, it would be less surprising if there was a few years in which pitching as a whole deviated from the mean substantially. The 1960's might have been an era like that. With so many more pitchers today, it's less likely to have a significant deviation from the mean in any given year.

So when people talk about the watered down pitching of today, they might simply be talking about the reversion to the mean when looking at pitching as a whole.

Another reason watered down pitching might be perception is that people tend to remember the great ones in baseball, but forget about the mediocre or average. Has anyone actually looked up the numbers to see if pitching has gotten worse? To really do this right would involve looking at not just league averages, but also variance, medians, etc.

2. Great point about hitting being watered down by expansion. Odd that this is not mentioned more often. The underlying cause is the same...

3. Madison, your point about money is, I think, right on the target.

4. Leaving aside drug use, baseball players have only recently taken conditioning seriously. It's amazing, but ten years ago it seemed rare for players to work out. There are still stereotypes of baseball players as fat, out of shape guys. Very few ball players today are out of shape - especially the young guys. Just as advances in surgery and conditioning have helped pitchers have longer careers, I think that strength and flexibility training are helping position players become better hitters.

Again, great post!
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Postby Lofunzo » Thu Aug 28, 2003 7:58 pm

No one said the largest reason why offense is up.......Chicks dig the long ball!! B-) :-b
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Postby LCBOY » Thu Aug 28, 2003 8:14 pm

Lofunzo wrote:If there are 330 pitcher spots in MLB NOW, than there were less before expansion, right? It is obvious to me that if there used to be 300 (arbitrary number) pitchers and now there are 330, then all of those new 30 can't be good/great.


How is this obvious to you?
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