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Old 02-14-2019, 12:55 PM   #121
Matt Arnold
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Originally Posted by chucksabr View Post
There's also a very good reason pitchers were required to hit in the first place: they were actually acceptable hitters when the game first started, because pitcher was more or less just another position.

When baseball started out as "base ball", the job of the pitcher was not to strike the batter out, or fool the batter into hitting the ball weakly, or anything along those lines. The job of the pitcher was to allow the batter to put the ball into play, so fielders could put the batter and baserunners out. It was the whole point of the game. In fact, batters were able to shout out their preference of where the pitcher should deliver the ball, and the pitcher was duty bound to deliver it there. Pitchers didn't play with velocity or location or spin. Heck, putting spin on the ball was very controversial at the time, and there was a huge debate as to whether a pitcher should be allowed to do this.

Point being, pitcher was not such a unique or difficult position, and just about anyone could pitch if they wanted to. But as pitching evolved from being relatively cooperative with the batter's requests to a strictly adversarial endeavor to put the batter out, more players who aspired to be pitchers had to put more work into perfecting the now very important job of pitching, which naturally took attention away from their working on improving their batting skills. At a certain point, pitchers stopped working on their batting altogether, taking batting practice only on an as-needed basis to avoid being embarrassed at the plate, until even that outcome didn't matter anymore.

Courtesy of Fangraphs, here's a look at how the hitting prowess of pitchers evolved in the era of professional baseball, which spans back to 1871.

Attachment 603303

I've included both batting average and wRC+ here, in an attempt to try to appeal to everyone's preferred way of looking at stats.

In the first decade of the professional game, pitchers batted well into the .240s, not much different from the skill positions of catcher and shortstop, and the wRC+ would occasionally almost touch 90. That's about the same as catchers hit today. But as pitching continued to become more important and pitchers evolved more tactics to perfect to fool batters, the kind of tactics that require their full concentration and attention to hone, their hitting started to plummet, and by 1891, pitchers' batting average dove under .200 for the first time. So alarmed were the elders of the game that even Al Spalding, a founder of professional baseball, proposed that pitchers "be eliminated entirely from the batting order and that only the other eight men of the opposing clubs be allowed to go to bat."

So even in 1891, people in a position to know knew that pitchers should not go to the plate. Connie Mack followed up in 1905 with the first real suggestion of the designated hitter, an additional hitter in place of the pitcher, instead of just taking the pitcher's slot out and reducing the order to eight.

Still, for whatever reason, no changes were made and pitchers were allowed to hit, getting only worse and worse at it. You look at the batting averages on the chart above go up and down and you might think, hey, look at the 1920s and 1930s, pitchers got back up over .200, so see, they can get better at hitting! But then you see that wRC+ did not spike up with average and you remember, oh yeah, that's the era back when entire leagues hit .300. Taken against that, pitchers hitting .200 isn't impressive at all.

Today, pitcher hitting levels are the very worst they have ever been, and as pitchers pitching become better and much harder to hit, as it inevitably does, pitchers hitting is fated to get even worse still, because pitchers never work at getting better at hitting, and they never will.
If I had my choice, I would simply remove them from the lineup, and have it be an 8-man lineup with no DH. But that would so skew stats (effectively giving all players 11% more AB in a season) that there's no way that it would ever be plausible to implement. So without that, the DH just makes sense.
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:31 PM   #122
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If I had my choice, I would simply remove them from the lineup, and have it be an 8-man lineup with no DH. But that would so skew stats (effectively giving all players 11% more AB in a season) that there's no way that it would ever be plausible to implement. So without that, the DH just makes sense.
Not the first time I've heard this idea recently. I don't like the idea of an eight-man batting order because it removes a big part of the symmetry of three that exists in the game (nine hitters, three outs, nine innings). I prefer to keep that.
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:46 PM   #123
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But since he hits "like a pitcher", and you guys think that level of offense should be subbed for, then the logic progression of your position would dictate everyone, no matter the position, should have a DH. Otherwise, poor hitting no longer becomes a legit reason to use the DH.
Avg Pitcher: -25 wRC+
Chris Davis: 46 wRC+

Not even remotely close. The only position that desperately needs a DH is pitcher. The rest are doing just fine thank you very much, even the one that was absolutely the worst qualified position player hitter in 2018.
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:53 PM   #124
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Look. At this point I've had my fun with this give and take. Most of you have no idea what the bottom line is in all this.

You can want all-DH. That is your preference. Good. You can think it is better for baseball. Good. That is your opinion. You can have reasons that your opinion is based on. Great. But the same goes with me if I choose the opposite position. NEITHER OF US IS WRONG. Neither opinion should be criticized. This black & white thinking some of you have is the reason why there is so much chaos & disharmony in the world. You can't let someone just have a different point of view no matter how benign it is. It's madness. At this point, continuing the discussion is the only thing that would be asinine. So....

Done.
There's been plenty of black & white thinking on both sides of this discussion up to this point. You're included in that. Nothing wrong with a discussion where people have differing points of view at all. Where it becomes wrong is when name calling or personal attacks begin, and I see no evidence of that so far.
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And falls on L.A.
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Nothing short of everything's enough"

- RIP Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip) February 6th, 1964 - October 17th, 2017
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:53 PM   #125
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Avg Pitcher: -25 wRC+
And remember, that's the average pitcher. Half of them are worse than that.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:12 PM   #126
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Well, I've always been a traditionalist, at least for the most part, with many things, baseball-related or not. While I understand the DH has been around for quite some time, and those of you who are pro-DH have likely made some valid points in your favor here, I am still among those who think that the DH has not helped the game as much as it has potentially hurt it.

Listen, this is not a matter that can be solved here on any message board. The only way to settle something like this is on the field, one way or another, of course. I can see both sides of this sort of thing, but I still favor pitchers batting, if and whenever possible, for sure.

Thank you for your time here, then, folks. Please take care, and all, and maybe I'll comment again later. CD out.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:58 PM   #127
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And remember, that's the average pitcher. Half of them are worse than that.
If you set the minimum plate appearances to 30 for pitchers in 2018, which is a reasonable cutoff I'd say, as it probably cuts out a lot of non-qualified pitchers (aside from freakishly good hitters like Michael Lorenzen of the Reds), here are the pitchers (out of the 77 pitchers that reached that threshold) that had a higher wRC+ than the average catcher (lowest average wRC+ of all the position player positions):

Michael Lorenzen, CIN: 173 wRC+
Brent Suter, MIL: 87 wRC+

Catchers: 84 wRC+

That's it. Two out of 77 (2.6% of qualifiers). Lorenzen's a freakish outlier, and Suter's pretty much even with the catchers.

These are the pitchers with at least 30 PA with a higher wRC+ than 2018's worst hitting qualified position player Chris Davis:

Michael Lorenzen, CIN: 173 wRC+
Brent Suter, MIL: 87 wRC+
Clayton Kershaw, LAD: 82 wRC+
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD: 78 wRC+
Dan Straily, MIA: 74 wRC+
Carlos Martinez, STL: 63 wRC+
German Marquez, COL: 60 wRC+
Zack Greinke, ARI: 51 wRC+
Max Scherzer, WSN: 47 wRC+

Davis, BAL: 46 wRC+

That's it. Nine out of 77 (11.7% of qualifiers). Of these, only Marquez, Greinke, and Scherzer qualified for the ERA title (162 IP and up). Madison Bumgarner, who is often held up as an example of a pitcher that's a good hitter, had a 2018 wRC+ of...-1.

The threshold of IP for the ERA title is going to have to be radically changed. Maybe 120 or so? Does that mean they'll go back and look at previous seasons using the new threshold? A discussion for another day to be sure, but it'll be interesting to see what happens with it.

I understand the strategy aspect of the National League game, although I think a lot of the strategy gets lost with the near automatic IBB of the #8 hitter (or #7 hitter if the pitcher is in the #8 slot) with two outs and a runner(s) on base. Also, everybody in the ballpark and those watching on TV or listening on the radio know that the pitcher is bunting if he comes up with men on base and 1 or fewer outs. Finally, with the strength of the bullpens in today's game and the emphasis on them, a lot of SP on a two times through the order limit, and ever shrinking max pitch counts due to max effort SP, even the strategy of knowing when to pull your pitcher is starting to disappear somewhat, or at least erode in importance.

I don't like this development (shrinking IP/GS numbers every season, bullpenning etc) whatsoever because I think SP should be there to save their bullpens from being completely gassed by the midway point of the season. That doesn't even take into consideration the fact that starting pitchers are becoming completely devalued in the marketplace, and may eventually (Gawd I hope not) become obsolete. That's a battle I'm willing to fight, even though I think it's a losing battle. I'm completely on board with the universal DH though. For me, it can't come soon enough, BUT I realize that this is a very emotional debate. Both sides are dug in, and that will never change, regardless of where the rules go.
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"Yeah, I know, I know, I know
It's still not enough
Nothing short of everything
Nothing short of everything's enough
No matter how wide or how tough
Nothing short of everything's enough

Yeah, I know, I know, I know
Now for Plan A
I'll stay till the wisteria fades
And falls on L.A.
No matter how high or how rough
Nothing short of everything's enough"

- RIP Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip) February 6th, 1964 - October 17th, 2017
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:08 PM   #128
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Quote:
Originally Posted by actionjackson View Post
These are the pitchers with at least 30 PA with a higher wRC+ than 2018's worst hitting qualified position player Chris Davis:

Michael Lorenzen, CIN: 173 wRC+
Brent Suter, MIL: 87 wRC+
Clayton Kershaw, LAD: 82 wRC+
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD: 78 wRC+
Dan Straily, MIA: 74 wRC+
Carlos Martinez, STL: 63 wRC+
German Marquez, COL: 60 wRC+
Zack Greinke, ARI: 51 wRC+
Max Scherzer, WSN: 47 wRC+

Davis, BAL: 46 wRC+

That's it. Nine out of 77 (11.7% of qualifiers).
And just for the sake of understanding the scope of what's being said here, here are the remaining pitchers with 30 PAs or more, and their wRC+ (and, what the hell, their batting averages, too):

Tyson Ross 36 .195
Vince Velasquez 25 .225
Tanner Roark 23 .190
Steven Matz 16 .109
Patrick Corbin 14 .197
Zack Wheeler 13 .196
Jacob deGrom 12 .164
Julio Teheran 11 .175
Miles Mikolas 9 .143
Jake Arrieta 4 .133
Jhoulys Chacin 2 .161
Walker Buehler 2 .163
Madison Bumgarner -1 .159
Clayton Richard -6 .095
Tyler Chatwood -6 .160
Jack Flaherty -7 .152
Jason Vargas -8 .148
Luke Weaver -10 .158
Joe Musgrove -10 .161
Anthony DeSclafani -14 .143
Wei-Yin Chen -15 .150
Noah Syndergaard -17 .128
Tyler Mahle -22 .103
John Gant -25 .065
Chris Stratton -26 .140
Stephen Strasburg -26 .122
Junior Guerra -27 .114
Trevor Williams -27 .116
Nick Pivetta -30 .100
Jon Lester -31 .119
Homer Bailey -34 .115
Joey Lucchesi -34 .059
Brandon McCarthy -38 .103
Luis Castillo -39 .102
Tyler Anderson -40 .100
Zach Eflin -43 .091
Michael Wacha -49 .080
Mike Montgomery -49 .091
Dereck Rodriguez -49 .094
Eric Lauer -53 .067
Jon Gray -53 .077
Zack Godley -53 .057
Chad Bettis -55 .088
Kenta Maeda -55 .094
Rich Hill -56 .093
Matt Harvey -56 .075
Kyle Freeland -56 .092
Ross Stripling -57 .091
Clay Buchholz -57 .065
Andrew Suarez -57 .064
Kyle Hendricks -57 .067
Trevor Richards -58 .065
Gio Gonzalez -58 .078
Jameson Taillon -60 .070
Ty Blach -63 .034
Chase Anderson -63 .089
Robbie Ray -66 .077
Derek Holland -66 .057
Jose Quintana -69 .077
Jose Urena -71 .042
Jeremy Hellickson -72 .063
Sean Newcomb -75 .044
Aaron Nola -75 .048
Sal Romano -77 .056
Mike Foltynewicz -81 .052
Alex Wood -83 .045
Anibal Sanchez -91 .024
Ivan Nova -100 .019
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