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Old 06-12-2012, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
13,784 posts, read 23,823,436 times
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If improved equipment, such as gloves, would be the significant variable we should see a reasonable and consistent decrease in batting average in more recent decades.

Just picking out 5 year intervals since the time of Ted Williams feat:

1941 - .262

1945 - .260

1950 - .266

1955 - .259

1960 - .255

1965 - .246

1970 - .254

1975 - .258

1980 - .265

1985 - .257

1990 - .258

1995 - .267

2000 - .270

2005 - .264

2010 - .257

Seems fairly consistent through the decades. There was a bit of a spike during the "steroid decade", but otherwise historical overall batting averages seem pretty consistent.

When looking at strikeout rate per game, you see a pretty consistent slope towards more strikeouts in recent years, so that can be one factor to consider, but batting average seems pretty consistent. So considering things like 5 man rotations and high usage of relief pitchers, perhaps this lessens the chances of batting .400 again.
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Old 06-12-2012, 05:18 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,141 posts, read 18,604,845 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewToCA View Post
If improved equipment, such as gloves, would be the significant variable we should see a reasonable and consistent decrease in batting average in more recent decades.

Just picking out 5 year intervals since the time of Ted Williams feat:

1941 - .262

1945 - .260

1950 - .266

1955 - .259

1960 - .255

1965 - .246

1970 - .254

1975 - .258

1980 - .265

1985 - .257

1990 - .258

1995 - .267

2000 - .270

2005 - .264

2010 - .257

Seems fairly consistent through the decades. There was a bit of a spike during the "steroid decade", but otherwise historical overall batting averages seem pretty consistent.

.
A) The proper way to measure would be to include all data, not selected intervals. Your method assumes constancy in all years not examined. It would also benefit by attempting to account for variables in play over the years. You did mention one, the steroid decade, but each era has had particular characteristics which had impacts on offensive production.

The strikezone was enlarged starting in 1963 as a ML response to the Maris/Mantle assault on Ruth's record in '61. Apparently the owners of the time believed that such a thing meant that the game had gone out of whack in favor of the hitters, without it seeming to dawn on them that it actually might be more related to AL expansion which began in '61.

The strikezone was reduced in size and the mound lowered at the start of the 1969 season...as a response to the dramatic drop in offensive levels caused by their response to Maris/Mantle. Offense began to rise once more, peaking in 1987, which triggered another panic and another strikezone redefining which took place in time for the '88 season, and caused offense to decline.

B) The difference between the high among your selections, .270, and the low, .246, is rather immense and does not support your summation "seems fairly constant."

C) Your methodology does not take into account the principle I introduced earlier....that any expanding of a database will cause the outliers to appear to be contracting. ML baseball is an example of perpetual expansion in terms of seasons, and periodic expansion in terms of the number of teams and players. If nothing else is considered, just the fact of expansion has made it more difficult to perform at a level extremely beyond the average performance...regardless of the league averages from year to year.

That isn't impossible, just more difficult.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:01 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
13,784 posts, read 23,823,436 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
A) The proper way to measure would be to include all data, not selected intervals. Your method assumes constancy in all years not examined. It would also benefit by attempting to account for variables in play over the years. You did mention one, the steroid decade, but each era has had particular characteristics which had impacts on offensive production.

The strikezone was enlarged starting in 1963 as a ML response to the Maris/Mantle assault on Ruth's record in '61. Apparently the owners of the time believed that such a thing meant that the game had gone out of whack in favor of the hitters, without it seeming to dawn on them that it actually might be more related to AL expansion which began in '61.

The strikezone was reduced in size and the mound lowered at the start of the 1969 season...as a response to the dramatic drop in offensive levels caused by their response to Maris/Mantle. Offense began to rise once more, peaking in 1987, which triggered another panic and another strikezone redefining which took place in time for the '88 season, and caused offense to decline.

B) The difference between the high among your selections, .270, and the low, .246, is rather immense and does not support your summation "seems fairly constant."

C) Your methodology does not take into account the principle I introduced earlier....that any expanding of a database will cause the outliers to appear to be contracting. ML baseball is an example of perpetual expansion in terms of seasons, and periodic expansion in terms of the number of teams and players. If nothing else is considered, just the fact of expansion has made it more difficult to perform at a level extremely beyond the average performance...regardless of the league averages from year to year.

That isn't impossible, just more difficult.
In 1941, the overall batting average for major league baseball was .262, and looking at the batting average for 2005 and 2010 we have an overall batting average of about .261.

So taking into account all of the changes through the years, the batting averages are about the same, therefore the .400 batter would seem about as difficult now as then. It isn't like it happened often in the first part of the 20th Century, in fact Williams was the first guy to do it in over a decade.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,141 posts, read 18,604,845 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewToCA View Post
So taking into account all of the changes through the years, the batting averages are about the same, therefore the .400 batter would seem about as difficult now as then. .
That was the heart of my objections to your assertion....you are not taking any of that into account, you are making no adjustments of any sort, rather you are simply declaring....looks even to me.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:15 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
That was the heart of my objections to your assertion....you are not taking any of that into account, you are making no adjustments of any sort, rather you are simply declaring....looks even to me.
I view the similar batting averages today, in comparison to the year Williams hit over .400, as a summation of the impact of the changes.

If the improved athleticism of fielders, better equipment and ballpark changes would have reduced the hits, then we'd see it in a lower batting average.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:25 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,141 posts, read 18,604,845 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewToCA View Post

If the improved athleticism of fielders, better equipment and ballpark changes would have reduced the hits, then we'd see it in a lower batting average.
That would be assuming everything else was constant and the only variable in play was that it was a new season.

Obviously that isn't the case, has never been the case.

Further, your so called "study" of the years began in 1941, the last year anyone hit .400. You are ignoring utterly all the years when most of the .400 averages were achieved. Why are you not comparing the league averages from the era of .400 hitters to averages posted since they have vanished? You are actually comparing decline years to...other decline years.

Whether you are right or wrong, the way you are going about trying to prove it ...doesn't prove it. It would require an immesnsely more complex study.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
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Well, if you look at the players who hit at least .400 since 1900, the thing that stands out is their very low strikeout rate. George Sisler, Ted Williams, Rogers Horsby and Ty Cobb all had strikeout rates in the 7% or less category in the years they hit at least .400.

So, since the mean batting average hasn't changed much since the year Williams hit over .400, it seems that a batter with a very low strikeout rate and moderate power would still have a very long shot at batting .400. You don't see low strikeout rates from current players, so I'd suspect none of the current major leaguers would have a shot at .400.

Last edited by NewToCA; 06-12-2012 at 10:35 PM..
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:17 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
13,784 posts, read 23,823,436 times
Reputation: 6195
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
That would be assuming everything else was constant and the only variable in play was that it was a new season.

Obviously that isn't the case, has never been the case.

Further, your so called "study" of the years began in 1941, the last year anyone hit .400. You are ignoring utterly all the years when most of the .400 averages were achieved. Why are you not comparing the league averages from the era of .400 hitters to averages posted since they have vanished? You are actually comparing decline years to...other decline years.

Whether you are right or wrong, the way you are going about trying to prove it ...doesn't prove it. It would require an immesnsely more complex study.
Because, much of the .400 plus batting averages took place in the 1800's.
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Old 06-13-2012, 06:35 AM
 
Location: Hometown of Jason Witten
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I think the only way we might see another .400 hitter is to have Ted thawed out and cloned.
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:10 PM
 
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
5,517 posts, read 9,022,294 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewToCA View Post
Well, if you look at the players who hit at least .400 since 1900, the thing that stands out is their very low strikeout rate. George Sisler, Ted Williams, Rogers Horsby and Ty Cobb all had strikeout rates in the 7% or less category in the years they hit at least .400.

So, since the mean batting average hasn't changed much since the year Williams hit over .400, it seems that a batter with a very low strikeout rate and moderate power would still have a very long shot at batting .400. You don't see low strikeout rates from current players, so I'd suspect none of the current major leaguers would have a shot at .400.

Another thing about your mean batting averages, is that they are mean.

Sure, Ted Williams existed in the 1940's, but we also had a slew of players batting sub .200, that we dont have today. There were guys in the major leagues, in the 30's and 40's, that wouldnt crack a single A roster today.

Just check out the 1945 World Champion Tigers

1945 Detroit Tigers Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics - Baseball-Reference.com

They started TWO players who hit under .250, including one who hit under .200 for the year.

The Philadelphia A's finished last in the AL that year

1945 Philadelphia Athletics Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics - Baseball-Reference.com

3 starters at .250 or under, and 7 players with at least 100 plate appearences and an average under .250, (5 of them under .230)

This was common even until the mid 1980s

1986 Pittsburgh Pirates Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics - Baseball-Reference.com

Pittsburgh Pirates, worst team in NL in 1986, 3 starters under .250, 2 of them under .225, and 5 of their 7 bench warmers with at least 100 plate appearences went under .250, with 3 under .220.

2011, Houston Astros, worst team in the NL

2 players under .250 starting, but....nobody under .240. Out of 12 bench warmers with at least 150 plate appearences, 6 of them went under .250, but for the most part, they hit .275 or better.

Part of the reason why those guys no longer exist, is because you can no longer make the major leagues with few skills other than being able to make contact with a pitch a few times a week.

Its no longer acceptable for catchers and middle infielders to be complete liabilities at the plate. Teams still carry guys for their gloves, but for the most part, only catchers will start for their gloves, and they are still expected to hit better than .212.

Part of the reason why guys like Ruth, Williams, Cobb, Gehrig, etc completely transcended the game, is because they were just so much better athletically than the rest of the league. It probably would be like how Alex Rodriguez would feel playing against a high school team every evening.

That gap has closed tremendously. Like I said, now you have 240+ lb guys running 4.3 and 4.4 40's, and MLB is attracting some of the best athletes the world has to offer. Almost every team has a guy or two who is going to flirt with .300 and/or hit 35+ jacks.

Yeah, if a guy could strike out as little as Tony Gwynn, he might have a shot at hitting .400 (or maybe hed just post Ozzie Smith type numbers, who never struck out more than 50 times, but hit under .250 6 times), but part of the reason you dont find guys with insanely low strikeouts any more, is because you have to worry about facing more than just Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens. Every team is marching out 1-5 who throw gas, plus an assortment of highly specialized middle relievers and closers.
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