The bigger strike zone has caused more than just increased strikeouts.
Recent analysis from Jon Roegele and Brian Mills (among others) has shown that the strike zone is changing. Specifically, the lower edge of the zone has dropped several inches in the last few years, opening up a new area for pitchers to attack. Responding to the deeper zone, pitchers have peppered this region with strikes and sinkers.
If pitchers are telling us which hitters are especially scary, does that make Pittsburgh's no. 6 hitter one of next year's top breakout candidates?
For a pitcher, the center of the strike zone presents a high-risk, high-reward proposition. There is the opportunity to steal a strike against an overly patient hitter, but also the possibility of the ball being walloped for extra bases. From a game theory prospective, pitchers must balance the need to acquire additional strikes versus the added risk which comes from throwing those strikes.
Yet, the inherent risk of a strike varies depending on who is standing in the batter’s box. Jose Bautista can hit a pitch middle-middle a long way, maybe out of the park. Ben Revere is less of a threat to achieve the same outcome. For this reason, pitchers can be more aggressive in pitching to the center of the zone against Ben Revere than Jose Bautista.
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Right in your neighborhood, there is a team operating on the periphery of professional baseball.
In early August, an independent league team called the San Rafael Pacifics played a team from nearby Pittsburg, California, called the Mettle. The last-place Mettle are owned and coached by former big leaguer Wayne Franklin, who (at age 40) is also the team’s ace starter, sort of—he leads the league in innings pitched, by far, yet has the second worst ERA. (He rarely takes himself out. In his last start, he allowed 11 runs in a complete game.) In left field for the Pacifics was Eric Byrnes, the Eric Byrnes, out of retirement for two games to raise money for charity. Byrnes’ bat was slow and he had become a two-true-outcomes hitter, walks and strikeouts, but he sprinted all over the outfield, wandering far into F-8 territory because every ball he caught sent $500 to a veterans group. It all sounds like a lark, but anchoring the whole thing to reality was an honest pennant race.
The Brewers are in trouble, the Buehrle-Odorizzi matchup was as glamorous as advertised, Koji Uehara can't get it together, and more of yesterday's action. Plus what to watch this weekend.
When an eight-game losing streak sends you tumbling from first place in your division to the brink of the playoff picture, it’s easy to begin feeling helpless. When you hold a lead at the end of only one of your last 56 innings on the diamond, desperation surely starts to set in.
The Brewers, with Carlos Gomez nursing a wrist injury and Ryan Braun away for the birth of his daughter, could not have chosen a less opportune time for their collapse. They welcomed the Cardinals, the team they led less than a week ago but at which they’re now looking up, to Miller Park on Thursday for the opener of a four-game showdown. And their tailspin continued almost immediately.
One's a problem. The other's not. Hopefully, MLB will note the difference.
I have a job that, unfortunately, limits the amount of time I can spend watching baseball. In that window of time in which I am not at my job or doing any of the other loathsome, menial things that consume an adult’s life, I like to fit in as much baseball as possible. Baseball is fun! I enjoy watching it. So when I sit down to a game, I am ready to watch something awesome.
Here are some of the things I love about baseball: the complex maneuvers Chris Sale has to enact in order to deliver his pitches, in which any of his seemingly eight limbs might snap. The slashing swing of Javier Baez, rendered by my television as a blurred streak over the plate, usually far from the passing ball. The crack of the bat, and all the various sounds within that crack. The graceful, loping range of a good outfielder. Bartolo Colonhitting a double.
A whiff-tastic Cleveland-Detroit game, more Philadelphia pitching exploits, and your daily dose of Jose Altuve, plus what to watch today.
The Indians got trounced in their series opener versus the Tigers on Monday, when Corey Kluber took the hill without his best stuff. That’s never a good idea in a matchup with David Price, but it was merely one loss, and the Tribe had reason to believe that it might even the series on Tuesday.
Kluber has deservedly gotten most of the press for an outstanding breakout campaign, but Carlos Carrasco has quietly emerged as a fine second fiddle since returning to the rotation on August 10th. He’d racked up a 0.73 ERA in four starts to go with a 24:3 K:BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings. J.P. Breentook notice. And the Indians, 3-1 behind the 27-year-old during that span, were reaping the rewards.