Should pro baseball do something to reduce Ks?

As it has been for 25 years the issue is the frequency the ball is in play.  There is one very simple way to solve the pace of play and time of game.  Change the rules for strikeout and walks:

-  2 Strikes you are out. 

- 1 foul ball with 1 strike - 2nd you are out. 

- tighten the zone so that the strike an inch off the plate goes away i.e. entire ball has to be over the plate and not a portion of it to get a strike.

- Three balls is a walk, you go to 2nd and not first & runners advance 2 bases.  Penalty for walking batters should be high.  No more waste pitches or hunting edges in 0-2 counts for 3 or 4 pitches.  

This forces the most important and best element of the game - pitchers throwing the ball over the plate and hitters swinging the stick at it.

There would be a huge increase in the level of importance on the first pitch of every at bat.   

I'd imagine this strategy would reduce the number of pitches per game from 300 to 200-225 or even better 175 .  This would shorten the game by at least 30 minutes maybe 45 and the pace of play would improve significantly.  In addition the Complete game would return and the norm of 5/6 pitching changes in the game go away saving another 10 or 15 minutes. MLB should have a goal of 1:50 for time of game.  Sit down at 7:05 and you are done by 9PM. No more 3:27 games that end 4-3 with 12 base hits and 8 pitching changes.

There might be a risk of more strikeouts and fewer homers - but the game to would be moving.

For the purists - this has been done before.  When the game was in its early days there was 9 pitches to walk and the batter called for the pitch in a location.  If the game was too slow in the 1880's and needed to be "fixed" why wouldn't the same concepts apply to today?

If we are not ready to consider what might have once been radical rule changes - I fear baseball might be Horse Racing in another 30 years.   You go for 4 hours and there are a few bursts of excitement in between long stretches of....nothing.  Result - what used to be the most attended sport in the country is relegated to 3rd class status.  

Dominik85 posted: I agree. However most sabermetric studies say the electronic ump would increase Ks because umps still call a smaller zone than the book says. 

If you do electronic ump you likely have to tighten the rulebook zone.

Can you please post a link to some of those studies?

 Are you saying the current strike zone would have to be made smaller? If that’s so, unless you advocate reducing the size of the plate, the only thing you could do to the zone is in the vertical plane.

The debate regarding baseball's position in the sports landscape has been going on here for a long time.  One side is the "it's still the great game - no reason to worry or change."  The other is "no one under 30 is watching and soon no one under 50 will be watching.  Too slow for the times and without change the game will drop in popularity"

I lean to the later scenario but all of that could be irrelevant because there is one other element that rarely gets talked about.

For nearly 150 years the game has always been a father to son ritual.  IMO the game of catch with our father or son has a nearly religious status for those of us that love the game.  It does for me.  I hope to live long enough to again feel the pop in my left palm from a yet to be born grandson falling in love with the game.  The sound and vibration into my forearm will let me know as much as anything that I am still alive and have purpose.  I might just cry a little if he gets a little smile thinking he is stinging me and tries to bring it a little harder.  I sure as hell hope he does because if he does he'll be taking me back to when I did that to the old man myself.  

As fatherhood continues to be diminished and eliminated from the culture it is the vine of the game that dies with it.  It might just be....there is no fix for that.   If so that is truly a sad thing for the game and country.

Sooo back to the OP - last night the Mariners struck out 10 times, but they also scored just as many runs. Is there a problem? Their opponent the Red Sox struck out 5 times, but managed to put up 14. Ironically the 2 pitchers involved last night were the same two that were involved in the 1-0 game last week where the M's K'd 6 times and the Sox K'd 12 times.

Baseball is just a "funny game" where the pendulum swings back and forth. The adjustments hitters and pitchers make keep the purists coming back and drives the stats crazed fantasy generation bonkers looking for means to make sense of it all. 

Last night a few friends and I were watching a game on TV. There was of course a lot of serious discussion and banter, but without a doubt the topic garnering the most exchange was how often the PU missed a call. Of course that led to talking about using technology to call pitches not swung at, but then it took a somewhat unusual turn.

 A grand debate broke out as to whether calling pitches not swung at more accurately would benefit the pitchers or the hitters more. I took the position that not only would it help hitters more, but it would tend to reduce the # of Ks.

Stats - The underlying cause of K's is swinging for the fences and that is unlikely to change.

My view of the robot ump is the batters will adjust in a week or so and pitchers in a few innings.  In the end it is just another umpire and it will be the most consistent of the bunch.  The only thing that will truly change is the bitching will stop about balls and strikes the same way it has on the bases with instant replay.  For that reason alone I eagerly await its implementation.  

The problem with calling pitches from your living room is the camera isn’t directly behind the mound.

If your broadcast shows the zone and the location of each pitch on the side of the screen (Red Sox games do) it isn’t 109% accurate.

I  watched a demonstration on a pregame show of how the pitches are measured and why the machine is sometimes inaccurate. The zone doesn’t adjust for batters height from pitch to pitch. It only looks like it has adjusted in tv. The demonstration I saw said the machine measures the same strike zone for Pedroia as Ortiz. Pedroia is 5’7” Ortiz is 6’3”.

luv baseball posted: Stats - The underlying cause of K's is swinging for the fences and that is unlikely to change.

My view of the robot ump is the batters will adjust in a week or so and pitchers in a few innings.  In the end it is just another umpire and it will be the most consistent of the bunch.  The only thing that will truly change is the bitching will stop about balls and strikes the same way it has on the bases with instant replay.  For that reason alone I eagerly await its implementation.  

While I agree wholeheartedly that the hitters will adjust, and fairly quickly, I totally disagree that the adjustments pitchers make will help them. If all pitchers had the command of a Greg Maddux I could see them taking advantage of a completely consistently called strike zone. But in truth, since most pitchers can’t consistently put a ball within a foot of their target, how will they benefit?

Stats - they won't.  The driver of K's is the swing for the fences mentality.  So pitching will essentially be unchanged as will hitting because their approach won't change.

As has always been the case pitchers that can hit their spots with velocity and movement will still get batters out more than those that cannot.  But the net impact will be negligible because the hitters still won't make more or less contact because of marginal changes to the umpire. 

That can only happen if you think players will be better or worse for having consistent umpiring.  I think they will be the same and only the really special players might benefit.  An intelligent hitter would eventually have some advantage ONLY IF he learns to command his specific strike zone which should become static with the robot umpire. With that variability removed it would be possible for hitters to gain...but that supposes they have the ability to take advantage on a broad scale.  Given swing away philosophy I believe status quo or something so close as to be within the standard deviation is the most likely result.

Eventually I think we will get to see if I am right.....or wrong.  But not today.

younggun posted: BTW, pitchers at MLB level don’t miss spots by a foot. I’m not saying there never is a bad miss, but let’s be fair. These guys are the absolute best at what they do. I would say misses, in general, are a couple inches at most. 

 There’s no argument that ML pitchers are the best at what they do, but that doesn’t mean they have the capacity to be as accurate as what you believe. Of course there are some conditions they “might” be able to be that accurate. One would be if they throw the same pitch over and over again under the same conditions, but that’s not something anyone would advise for all but a very few pitchers.

 The fact is, when pitchers consciously make any kind of adjustment to throw a different kind of pitch, move the location, or even just add or take off a little, they’re changing their mechanics and it’s difficult to make that adjustment and still be accurate to a high degree. Throwing a baseball 60’6” while attempting to vary the motion, even though very slightly, is not the same as throwing darts 7’9.25”, and anyone who believes the two can have the same kind of accuracy is living in a dreamland.

 Watch ML catchers receiving pitches closely and you’ll see just how inaccurate pitchers really are, While they do hit their targets, consistently putting a ball within a foot of their target isn’t something you’re normally gonna see.

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