You see the stories everywhere. “Baseball teams are striking out more than ever,” blared an NBC Sports headline back in April. In 2015, The Hardball Times wrote a story entitled “The Strikeout Ascendant.” And the year before that, friend of the program Ben Lindbergh hosted a “rising strikeout rate symposium” on his popular podcast, Effectively Wild. Clearly, the baseball world is well aware that strikeout rates are up — way up.What’s less well-known, but equally true, is this: Baseball’s recent rise in strikeout rates has little to do with how good batters are at making contact. That’s a bit counterintuitive, I know, because strikeout rates have increased (up nearly 26 percent since 20021That’s the first year for which we have plate-discipline statistics, so that’s as far back as we can look using the data mentioned throughout this article.), and when you think of a strikeout, you usually imagine a batter taking a mighty hack and missing. And indeed, swinging strikes are up as a percentage of all pitches.But keep in mind that this isn’t only about the batters — pitchers also have a big say in the matter.And in 2009, pretty much all of a sudden, they started throwing way fewer pitches in the strike zone, as measured by Fangraphs’ zone percentage statistic.2It’s worth noting that Pitchf/x’s version of the same statistic, which uses a slightly different methodology, shows roughly the same trend, but with a different start date and a shallower slope. From 2002 (the earliest year for which we have data) through 2008, pitchers put the ball through the zone about 52 percent of the time, year in and year out. In fact, over the seven seasons from 2002 to 2008, the league-wide rate of pitches in the zone never dropped below 50.5 percent or rose above 54.2 percent. When it came to tossing strikes, MLB hurlers were a model of consistency.But during the 2009 season, pitchers threw balls in the zone just 48.3 percent of the time. In 2010, that number kept falling — to 45.4 percent! — and by 2011, the league-wide rate of pitches in the zone was just 44.6 percent. In just three years, about one out of every nine pitches that had previously been thrown in the zone started missing its mark. (Since then, MLB’s zone rate has basically leveled off: Last year, it was exactly the same — 44.6 percent — as it was in 2011.)But despite that drastic change, batters haven’t really changed how they react to pitches inside the zone. Batters still swing at basically the same proportion of pitches in the zone as they did in 2002, and they still make contact with those pitches at essentially the same rate.Instead, the big changes have come outside the zone. The trend here is striking. As pitchers started throwing outside the zone more and more — again, the really big decline in strike-throwing started around 2009 — hitters not only started swinging at more pitches outside the zone, they also started getting much better at making contact on those wayward pitches. Add it all up, and you see that instead of making contact on just 10 percent of all balls thrown outside the strike zone, as they did back in 2002, hitters made contact on nearly 20 percent of such pitches in 2016.3Note that this isn’t the same as the “contact rate” listed at FanGraphs, which only looks at balls that the batter took a swing at. This figure looks at all pitches outside the zone, which will include, for example, some pitches that were essentially unhittable or thrown as part of an intentional walk. That’s double the rate! That’s unbelievable!Let’s step back for a second, because this is a pretty counterintuitive finding. Batters are striking out more often, but they haven’t gotten any worse at their core task: hitting the ball. They’re also not getting as many good pitches to hit as they used to, but they’re about as good as they ever were at making contact on balls inside the strike zone, and far better than they used to be at making contact on balls outside the zone. Normally that should add up to swinging and missing less often, not more often. But because more of the balls they’re swinging at are outside the zone, and those balls are fundamentally harder to hit, the effect on overall contact is just about level. It’s a classic Simpson’s Paradox.So if MLB hitters suddenly started channeling their inner Vladimir Guerrero, making better contact on bad pitches, why are they still suffering so many strikeouts? We don’t really know for sure, and there’s a lot more digging to be done before anything can be said conclusively. For one thing, it’s not entirely clear which came first: pitchers throwing more outside the zone or hitters swinging at those pitches. I tested whether one month’s zone rate predicted the next month’s swing rate and vice versa, but I found almost no case for either.4The r-squared was less than 0.03 in both directions. This suggests that the complex interactions between batters and pitchers are happening on a much smaller scale than a month, and that they deserve more granular research.But here’s one possible (as-yet-untested) hypothesis for the big-picture story: Sometime in the late 2000s, pitchers began throwing more breaking pitches outside of the zone — hence the decline in zone percentage.5We know that fastball usage has dropped over the period in consideration, and given the trend in zone rate noted above, it’s not ridiculous to guess that some portion of that drop came from pitches outside the zone. At the same time — possibly out of necessity — hitters became increasingly willing to swing at pitches outside the zone, even finding some reasonable success doing it. But pitchers had another weapon: The fastball on the corner of the strike zone. Perhaps the adjustment that hitters made in order to hit breaking stuff outside the zone also made them vulnerable to hard stuff inside it — for which they were not mechanically prepared — and they started getting called out on strikes by the boatload.Again, that’s only a theory. But the fact is that batters are striking out more on called strikes in the zone even as they’re getting better at hitting pitches outside of it. So the next time you see a hitter preparing for a breaking ball out of the zone, remember: It’s not the pitches you swing at that get you. It’s the ones you don’t.
Quartet of European Delights, which is a part of the ongoing V4 Festival, had a cultural evening with European performers Csillagszemuek (Starry-Eyed) Dance Ensemble. The foot-tapping dances, the colourful attires and the music was a complete European treat as one could go back in time when folk music dominated central Europe.The festival brought together traditional culinary recipes, menus, lively central European music and a photo exhibition at the same event. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The Hungarian group, Csillagszemuek (Starry-Eyed) Dance Ensemble, a group of 24 young people performed the vibrant and lively folk dances from Hungary and Europe. It was a visual as well as a musical treat as the boys tapped their foot to the beat.Chefs from Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia were flown down to India for a special European food and breweries spread. At the bar there were nine different beer brands from the European country. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix’I cooked the duck like they do in Poland and there is chicken on the platter and some beetroot stock,’ said the chef from Poland who had come to India specially for the event. Hungarian cuisines like Goulosh were also prepared. With more guests turning up than expected, the food was quickly savoured with wine and beer.The nine varieties of beer which were served had distinct flavours.And if you thought you missed it, there’s another chance as a special Hungarian Cuisine Day will be hosted at the Eros Hotel on 4 November.
State Rep. Edward J. Canfield, D.O., today said House approval of the state budget will benefit communities throughout the state that are underserved by the medical profession. He also applauded increased funding for vital programs for senior citizens.Canfield, of Sebawaing, serves as chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. He said funding for a program to place medical residents in areas lacking sufficient medical staffing will benefit communities across Michigan.“The Early Primary Care program allows second-year medical students to practice medicine in an underserved area of the state. In return, that resident would be paid a salary and part of the student’s college debt would be paid off by local sources,” Canfield said. “After the two years, the residents return to complete their medical education. By working in underserved areas over time allows an experience that can lead to long-term relationships in those areas with the most need.”Canfield also commended the House for increasing funding for all K-12 schools in Huron and Tuscola counties.“Every school in our communities are receiving more money per student than currently allocated, and a majority of our rural schools are receiving even more money to close a funding gap that has existed for decades,” Canfield said. “We are now spending more to advance K-12 education than ever before in Michigan’s history.”Other key elements of the budget include:The 2017-18 budget spends less on the state budget next year than was spent during the current year.Overall growth in spending does not exceed the rate of inflation. Just like families across Michigan, the Legislature is tightening the state’s belt by cutting inefficient programs and eliminating waste in state government.The Legislature addresses the need for more road and bridge repair and maintenance by allocating a record amount of money for transportation and water delivery systems.The budget helps make life better in communities across Michigan by adding money for road repairs, public safety departments, parks and other programs to improve our daily lives.The plan pays down millions of dollars in debt, helping relieve state liability and opening the door for a more secure financial future.We have consistently increased funding for public safety in recent years, and communities will be even safer with 150 more Michigan State Police troopers funded in this budget.##### 20Jun Rep. Canfield: Budget boosts medical care, senior programs Categories: Canfield News,News