Monday, March 14, 2016

Unintended Consequences of Rising Strikeout Rates

If you've read this blog for a while, you'll know that I don't like to see batters getting hit by pitches. In fact, you might say I'm a little obsessed. I wrote a long piece (FanGraphs version here, Banished to the Pen here) tracing this path:

  • Strikeouts have risen steadily.
  • As strikeouts have risen, pitchers are increasingly ahead in the count. More plate appearances ended on 0-1, 0-2, and 1-2 counts in 2014-15 than on 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1, and 3-2 counts. That's unprecedented.
  • When pitchers are ahead in the count, they target the margins of the strike zone rather than the middle.
  • When they target the margins and miss, there are consequences that don't occur when they target the middle and miss.
  • While it's been well-understood that rising strikeouts have led to decreased offense, my research showed that they've also, through the steps above, led to fewer sacrifice flies, more wild pitches, and more hit batters.
I submitted the report to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and I was selected to make a presentation at the SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix over the weekend. Really. Here's the program. It has an abstract of my report and my bio.

OK, that's it for links to stuff from the past. New Pirates-related content starts tomorrow.

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