Who doesn’t love a good hit-and-run play, a timely stolen base, a well-executed sacrifice bunt, a choke-up-on-the-bat and also two-strike bloop hit to shallow right on field? So does the manager of the Log Angeles Angels, Joe Maddon. He may have gained disrepute and infamy for his new-age motivational practices and early embrace of logics, but when it comes to on-field product of baseball, he is for sure old school to the core.
That’s the reason, why Maddon recently welcomed latest news reports that Major League Baseball had somewhat deadened and weakened the ball this season among a six-year surge of home runs. In Maddon’s eyes, the changes are understated and subtle that the fly balls traveling only one to two feet shorter when hit more than 375 feet as an outcome. Only if the changes drives baseball one small step toward its old-style and traditional roots, it would be one giant leap for the game. He said,
“I’m hoping it impacts the game a lot. We will see how it works out this year, but if, in fact, the ball doesn’t travel as far, it will change the analytics of the game, and a lot of things will change off that. Strategically speaking, it will put more emphasis on speed, on hitting the ball the other way, especially with two strikes, on contact. He added, Strikeouts will be more disdained, like they were in the past. Pitchers might challenge hitters more because they want the ball in play, and they won’t walk as many guys.”
It’s like a fastball coming down the pipe, but Maddon has spent more than 40 years of his life dedicated to sports that has dropped downed the popularity of the National Football League, fallen the television ratings and undergoes from a lack of action, thinks it’s worth pursuing. Maddon said,
“You never know until you actually try something. I think part of the disinterest in the game today is that it’s been reduced to small patterns of striking people out, accepting walks and trying to hit home runs. When you change the ball, we can go back in time to where we had a better brand of baseball.”
Many baseball lovers think that the majority of three true outcomes of baseball, the home run, the walk and the strikeout are causing harm to the sport.
During the 2019 regular hit, a major league record 6,776 homers were hit. The rate of homers fell down only slightly during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. In 2019, during last season from 1.39 per team a game to 1.28 per team a game.
In 2015, the current home run surge began when homers hit the previous season they jumped to 4,909 from the 4,186. In 2016, there were 5,610 homers hit, 6,105 homers hit in 2017, and 5,585 homers hit in 2018. In the previous three full seasons, the batters also set strikeout records. In 2017 with 40,104 whiffs, 41,207 whiffs in 2018 and 42,823 whiffs in 2019. Throughout the history of baseball since 1997, it had never witnessed more than 30,000 strikeouts in a season. In 2016, the walks also jumped from 15,088 to an average of 15,803 between two years 2017 to 2019.
Rich Hill, the baseball pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball said that,
“The overall feeling I’ve gotten from friends and family and fans that I’ve talked to is that, yeah, seeing home runs is almost like watching the National Basketball Association and guys throwing up three-pointers all the time. It understandably has a point to it, but strategically, if we want to continue to grow the health of the game, we might want to rethink where we are right now. And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way.”
On the other side, the former outfielder who is currently the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball recalled the obstruction his pitchers would have when they would perform a two-strike down-and-away fastball, only to have the hitter glance his bat at the ball and hit an opposite-field homer. Robert said,
“I haven’t dug too much into it, but there have been many pitchers in our camp who have expressed their feelings as far as last year’s baseball being a lot harder and the strings wound a lot tighter than they potentially will be this year. So it’s a welcome thing for pitchers.”