Keep the Action Alive — a guest post

Our colleague Fred sent this to me and suggested he’d post it as a comment if I didn’t put it in a post. It seems to me it’s likely to get more attention for a longer period if it’s in a post, and it’s worthy of discussion.

Every year there is talk about speeding up the game of baseball. Millennials are different, they don’t want to watch the grass grow during the 25 seconds between pitches or watch the pitcher and catcher play catch.

Players are not playing at their best if they stand around and they are not at their best in extra innings.

Here are some ideas for creating more action in a shorter period of time:

  1. Use the DH in the NL but when the third pitcher enters the game, he goes into the DH spot.
    a. The pitcher who last pitched would thereafter be in the DH spot.

  2. Start all extra innings with a runner on second base. This will shorten the number of extra innings played and keep the game lively in those extra innings.
  3. Use electronics to call balls and strikes. Less arguing and allows hitters to be more aggressive.
  4. Reduce the time between innings.
    a. Five warm up pitches?
    b. Insert more ads during the innings whether it is the announcer reminding viewers that the game is brought to you by X or maybe a graphic somewhere on the screen.

  5. Electronically reduce the strike zone whenever a pitcher takes too much time. The clock would start when the pitcher has the ball and is within 10 feet of the mound. Maybe 18 to 22 seconds?
  6. Expand the strike zone electronically whenever a hitter is not ready to hit within 8 seconds between pitches.
  7. Reduce the strike zone for the next 5 pitches whenever a pitcher puts a pitch more than 6 inches inside and above the shoulders. Less intimidation means more action. The location would be determined electronically.

78 thoughts on “Keep the Action Alive — a guest post

  1. Wow. I don’t really like any of those suggestions except maybe #2 (electronic strike calling).

    For #4 (fewer warm-up pitches) I don’t like it between innings, because you can’t predict how long a pitcher will be sitting in the dugout from inning to inning. I would be in favor of fewer pitches for guys coming directly from the bullpen, since presumably they were throwing just a few seconds before.

    Cut down on catcher’s mound trips, have batters stay in the box, and institute a pitch clock with with a the penalty for going over being an automatic ball.

    If I ever get my hands on a time machine, one of the first things I do is go back and get the umpires to call a few automatic strikes on Mike Hargrove when he was doing his human rain delay act. Nip things in the bud back then.

  2. Expanding or shrinking the strike zone electronically is unfair, because the only strike zone either the the pitcher or batter (and sometimes the ump) can see is the one defined by the rules, i.e., the width of home plate and from knees to armpits (or however high it is). I’d prefer just awarding automatic strikes or balls for violations.

  3. Lost me at DH, so didn’t even get to the electronic stuff that I wouldn’t like to see. DX has a few good suggestions as regards warm up pitches for relievers. On the time clock issue, studies that I have seen suggest that the vast majority of pitchers don’t take more than 20 seconds, so to make that really bite you might take it down to 15 seconds and shave about 15-20 minutes off the game, as well as spur the pace.

  4. Most baseball fans and especially younger ones want to quicken the pace of Games, not just make them shorter. Maybe there is little difference.

    There is an hypothesis floating around that says that as the extra innings increase, the hitters tend to try to end the game with a home run and that leads to more outs and more innings. My thought is that games are long enough without extra innings.

    There was discussion on MLB network recently about putting a runner on second to start an extra inning. That makes small ball more important to win extra innings. That idea really messes with traditional baseball but I like it.

    An electronic strike zone introduces other measurements like high and inside pitches. A hitter that leans over the plate often has to hit the ground to avoid a pitch that is almost in the strike zone. That is only a dangerous pitch if the hitter crowds the plate and leans in. But a pitch that is above the shoulders and 6 inches inside is a intimidation pitch and a dangerous pitch for any hitter. How might it be discouraged?

    A pitcher could be penalized for a high and inside pitch by electronically reducing the strike zone for that hitter. Maybe take an inch away from the strike zone from top, bottom, and both sides? That would be done automatically to take the argument out of the call.

    Sometimes something has to be given so that it can be taken away. That is the theory behind having the DH in the NL but taken away for managerial actions that slow the game. For those that enjoy watching a pitcher hit and the resulting strategy that goes with decisions to pinch hitting for the pitcher, that doesn’t totally go away. It just happens in the later innings where it typically comes into play anyway. In the meantime, a team gets to see a real hitter hit for the starting pitcher and for the next two that follow.

    A decision to use a fourth pitcher magnifies the managerial strategically decision to do so. Purists should like that. In the mean time more offense gets into the game and the game has fewer feeble swings.

  5. Among the things the front office wants him to focus on in his training is conditioning, according to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times

    The Dodgers have talked to outfielder Joc Pederson about
    improving his conditioning in order to regain his explosiveness in the
    field and on the bases, Zaidi said.

    Pederson has shown that he has some speed, as he stole 113 bases in
    four Minor League seasons. It has not translated to his time with the
    Dodgers, however, as he stole just four bases in 2015, six in 2016 and
    four in 2017.

    His defense also diminished a bit this season, and the result was
    Chris Taylor replacing him in center field and Pederson moving over to
    left when he regained his starting spot.

    If Pederson can get into better shape and use his speed more,
    combined with his raw power, he has an opportunity to be a special
    player for the Dodgers.

  6. The report on Dodgers.com suggests that after flipping Kemp (or dfa’ing him) they may look at McCutch or Cain. Seems like in a deal where they gave up a 1st baseman and a shortstop (and two pitchers), they would be looking for a (backup) infielder.

  7. Culberson is fungible, but he still left us some memorable moments. So did AGon, and I enjoyed McCarthy’s Twitterwit.

  8. I suspect that if the Braves could have traded Kemp without taking back a comparable amount of salary, they would have done so. Therefore, the Dodgers probably won’t be able to trade Kemp without keeping much of his salary plus the Dodgers don’t need rotation depth, questionable as it was, like the Braves did.

    • One would think, though Braves seem most concerned with salary relief for 2019, which would have been difficult to achieve by merely trading Kemp at a discount. With this trade to the Dodgers, their books are clear. On the other hand, the Dodgers could trade Kemp at a major discount as whatever they get back would be all gravy. Question is whether there is a team out there that might want to take him on at, say, $3-5 million or wait and take the risk of competing with other teams for his services if and when he is DFAed and be out the MLB minimum.

  9. Ok. What next? Assume they will get rid of Matty. They could simply go the DFA route or try to swing a package deal to get further salary relief, if they think they need more right now to shore up a weakness. Weaknesses are somewhat relative of course and they might widen or others might be exposed during the course of the season through less than expected performance of players or injury. The latter suggests that they could stand pat and wait and see what happens through early July. See that there is some speculation as regards Cutch, but this involves a package with Grandal. I just get the feeling that the Dodgers don’t want to give up the depth and flexibility at the catcher position right now, even with Grande being able to walk in 2019.

  10. There’s a small part of me that feels a bit of Kemp nostalgia, and bemoans that collision with the wall in Denver. That said, there’s no room for him on the 2018 Dodgers, and I hope he finds a job with a team that’s worthy of him.

    • He was great! A nine-year career with the Dodgers at OPS+ 128, with the last four at 147.

        • Giving accountants work! Matty has been involved in three transactions involving salary dumps, leaving a money trail. The Dodgers are still sending the Pads $3.5 million a year for Matty. Of that, the Pads are sending $2.5 million to the Braves and pocketing $1 million. Hector Olivera was traded by the Dodgers to the Braves, with the Dodgers paying $4.7 million of his salary annually through 2020. The Pads received Hector in exchange for Matty and $10,5 million. Good ol’ Hector is expected to pocket $36.5 million (less for the 82 games he was suspended) for appearing in 30 Big league games.

    • I was at that game. He was down at the base of the wall for a long time and then in the same inning he charged a popup and dived and slid on his stomach trying to catch it. That was maybe the worst game I have seen. Dodgers going three up and three down and Dodger pitchers unable to throw a strike in the first two innings. We left good seats to move back where the crowd was thinner because the Rockies’ good seats are narrow and don’t have much leg room.

      • I attended a Matty injury game as well in July 2013 in DC. His first game off the DL after reporting pain in his surgically repaired shoulder in late May. He looked great, going 3-4 with a dinger and 3 rbi. In the ninth he was on third with two outs and ran home on an inning-ending forceout and landed awkwardly on the plate. He was out for two months.

  11. Any chance the Dodgers take a shot in Free Agency on an inexpensive 1 year deal for a back up first baseman? One Adrian Gonzalez perhaps?
    #veteranpresence

    • Sad to say, there’s no place for AGon on the 2018 Dodgers. Also, Grandal is a backup 1B (presuming he’s not traded).

    • Interesting to see, as you pointed out below, whether they look for an additional infielder to replace Chase, who was invaluable for his lefty bat off the bench (OPS+ 169 as a PH in 43 PA!) and ability to play 2nd and 1st. He did generate WAR 1.0, which is good for a utility guy.

      • I think Chutley’s at or near the end of the line, but he won’t be easy to replace. I doubt AGon will be able to pick up the slack at 2B.

    • Would have been over-appreciated in the 1980s. for his last couple of years. A wonderful player before he was beset by injury. His own worst enemy in insisting to play the field. Hitting numbers are now about average for a DH.

    • Fondest memories are him calling Bruins B ball back in the day and the Chargers, Air Coryell edition.

  12. Wonder what Package’s reaction was to the Dodgers re-acquiring Kemp? Run screaming thru the woods? Go blind?

    Anyone hear of earthquakes or unusual phenomenons in his South Carolina about the time the deal was announced?

    His excitement no doubt was dulled by the simultaneous parting with AGon. That kind of conflict could leave him shell-shocked. 😉

    • Foul Tip
      Yes indeed, I am so happy. What a Christmas!! Don’t worry though, I think Kemp will not be here long. Just my opinion. Oh by the way, I was also happy that Agon is gone. He kept getting in the way of my boy Bells. Thanks for thinking of me Foul Tip. Have a great Christmas and tell RBI I said hello.

        • Hey RBI! I hope you are well and enjoying the off season. I was so excited and I thought the Dodgers would win but we all know the outcome. Hey, I hope to comment a little going forward. Hope to hear from you. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • Still in my to-read stack. But in reaction to the article, Weaver was pre-analytics, however, his tactical sense of the game (platooning, valuing pitching and avoiding giving away outs) was in-line with subsequent findings from the SABR revolution.