Pitchers Wont Throw Strikes So Batters Are Getting Better At Hitting Bad

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. read more

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Holeinone propels Steve Stricker to 2day lead in Memorial Tournament

Two days into the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, veteran PGA Tour golfer Steve Stricker finds himself atop the leaderboard at 9-under-par. “Obviously, I’m happy to be where I’m at,” Stricker said, “but you’ve just got to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing and try to do the same things, play to my strengths.” Stricker, who started on the back nine, capped off his round with a hole-in-one on the eighth hole, and a birdie on the ninth to propel him three shots ahead of his closest competition. “I made the turn 1-over for the round and shot 30 on the second nine,” Stricker said, “so things got going in the right direction.” Four players find themselves three shots off the lead heading into the weekend. One of those four, Rory McIlroy, shot an even-par 72 Friday. McIlroy did not improve on his first-round 66, but is still in contention. “I felt as if I played good enough to shoot something in the 60s, but I just made too many mistakes out there,” McIlroy said. “I made two bogeys on the front nine from the middle of the fairway with a 9-iron and a sand wedge in my hand. You just can’t do that sort of stuff.” Ricky Barnes, Rod Pampling and Jonathan Byrd also find themselves at 6-under-par. One group that seemed to have the biggest crowd all day was the Phil “Lefty” Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel and Luke Donald trio. Donald, the No. 1 golfer in the world, finished his Friday round birdie-birdie, putting himself in a position for a late tee time. Donald is now tied for sixth, just four shots off the lead and will be a factor entering the weekend. “I played a lot of solid golf today,” Donald said. “Some careless mistakes out there, mostly short game mistakes. … A lot of positives though, and I’m still in a great place for the weekend.” Mickelson finished his day at 2-under-par, and played a nearly flawless round. Lefty recorded three birdies and one bogey Friday, putting him seven shots away from Stricker. “There’s some good chances out there,” Mickelson said. “If I can get a good round tomorrow, I hopefully will get in the mix for Sunday, which is the goal.” Seventy-three players made the cut for the Memorial’s final two rounds. Some big names missed the cut, including Stuart Appleby, Trevor Immelman, Martin Laird, Steve Marino, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Lucas Glover, Jhonattan Vegas and Justin Rose. Rose, the defending champion, will not be playing over the weekend at the Memorial this year. Rose shot a 3-over 75 Friday to finish 2-over-par for the first two rounds. The cut was 1-over-par. Rose finished the 18th, knew his weekend was over and, without hesitation, handed his putter to a child in the gallery. Play begins at 8:10 a.m. Saturday, and Stricker will tee off with Barnes at 1:40 p.m. read more

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Juventus midfielder welcomes Ronaldo

first_imgAs report that Cristiano Ronaldo has said “yes” to a switch to Juventus thickens, one of  Juve’s midfielders Blaise Matuidi says “it would be nice to have one of the best players in the world” join their club.The report indicated that the Portuguese superstar has agreed to move to Juventus this summer, in a €100m deal. There are also speculative reports claiming that CR7 is being offered a €30m per season contract, four times what current top earner Gonzalo Higuain earns as well as the report that Adidas could help fund the move.However, Ronaldo signed a ‘lifetime’ deal with Nike just two years ago and is said to be worth $1bn, and will continue even after he retires.LeBron James and Michael Jordan, are the first footballers to land such deal, but Ronaldo has made them the third player to agree to such huge partnership,Franck Ribery, FiorentinaFiorentina owner: “Ribery played better than Ronaldo!” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso was left gushing over Franck Ribery’s performance against Juventus, which he rates above that of even Cristiano Ronaldo’s.Matuidi was asked about Ronaldo’s move to Juventus in a Press conference at France’s training camp and he said:“We’re at the World Cup,” Matuidi pointed out.“Yes, I’ve heard the talk but for now it’s just a rumour. I won’t lie, it would be nice to have one of the best players in the world at Juventus. It would be fantastic for the club and we Juventus players.“But I’m with France now and there are other things to think about.”last_img read more

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Fonseca admits Shakhtar deserved 60 thrashing to Man City

first_imgShakhtar Donetsk boss Paulo Fonseca refused to blame the referee for their devasting 6-0 loss to Manchester City in the Champions LeagueThe Premier League champions were awarded a bizarre penalty after Raheem Sterling kicked the turf and fell to the ground inside the box.Referee Viktor Kassai then awarded City the spot-kick with Gabriel Jesus slotting it home for the first goal of his hat-trick and the club’s second of the game.Sterling would later get on the scoresheet himself along with David Silva and Riyad Mahrez to leave Shakhtar bottom of Group F.“It’s difficult to discuss that after such a result, but, of course, the penalty was ridiculous,” said Foncesa on the club website.“I think everyone saw it … I am by no means saying that we lost because of that. However, of course, that spot-kick was ridiculous for everyone.”Premier LeaguePremier League Betting: Match-day 5 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Going into the Premier League’s match-day five with a gap already beginning to form at the top of the league. We will take a…“In fact, you don’t even need to talk a lot and make a drama out of that. City are just the team of an entirely different level.“They fully deserved this victory, with this kind of score. Meanwhile, we were neither far nor close to being ourselves.”Shakhtar are four points adrift of second-placed Lyon in Group F with just two games remaining.“We’ve still got every chance of securing the second spot,” added Fonseca.“Clearly, it will be very difficult, but mathematically possible. It just remains to win two games, at the same time realising that it will be tough. Let’s see if we can be better in boxing than in football.”Shakhtar will next face Hoffenheim in Group F on November 27.last_img read more

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Twist in the tale

first_imgShift is different from moving forward or moving backward. It means moving along the lateral. And among all physical mobilities-pushing, pulling, picking or dropping, shifting is the most challenging. Curated by Joyoti Roy, the painting and photography exhibition Shift Collective displays the works of Suman Sengupta and Amit Dey that challenge their own subjects and metaphors. It is familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The artistes come from the mainstream visual media. The major shift in the manner in which the artists have challenged their mainstream work is the real creative genius of this exhibition. This is an internal journey but so daring that it should be thrown up in the open to be watched and interpreted.  Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’In the 22 works in this exhibition, viewers will see a gradation in the development of the ideas of the artists in this scheme, how each concept has been meticulously developed and rendered. So shift your gears and enjoy this ride. It is going to be an act of handling weight, direction, tact and impact, all at the same time.Suman’s paintings are bold, honest, simple and driven, essentially, by passion and love for the vocation. His paintings are often his tool of reaction to the world around him. He has been inspired by the works of Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Piccasso and Bikash Bhattacharya all known to be passionate painters, who painted because of an urgent need to express without a care for consequence and attaining the heights of unique, often assertive, interpretations of life around. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixAmit Dey is one of the rare photographers who have achieved commercial success and critical acclaim in equal measures. Based in New Delhi, India, he has been involved in creating many different types of images, ranging from fashion to architecture, lifestyle to concepts… and many things in between.Cherishing his artistic freedom, he loves to experiment, and refuses to be tied to any particular genre or style.When: December 21-27 Where: Lalit Kala Akademi Gallery 5 Kasturba Gandhi Marglast_img read more

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August 15 2012 All of FLAM CHENs performances he

first_imgAugust 15, 2012All of FLAM CHEN’s performances here at Arcosanti have excelled expectations and left people literally stunned, and this past Saturday was no exception. Words fail to do justice to this group of dedicated and highly skilled performers. BRAVO once again and we already look forward to the next time.This and the third photo were taken by Tomiaki Tamura.More photos will be posted on Friday, August 17. 2012  To explain a bit more about this outstanding group here is some information from their Civic leaders, city centers and creative communities cry out for work that is inspiring, un-elitist, bonding and celebratory. Through procession, community skill-building workshops and novel use of public space, Flam Chen has developed a uniquely American style of Road Theater. This is performance unconfined by black boxes or velvet seats, this is what new audiences want-To be re-connected to the POWER and VELOCITY of the performing arts.Flam Chen embodies narrative themes that seesaw between dark and light. Fantastic realms inhabited by creatures at once human and animal–invade and transform mundane spaces into playgrounds that are whimsical, macabre and other-worldly.Flam Chen’s work ranges from the intimate, to large scale residencies that include company designed workshops, combining student talent, troupe talent, and community culminating in spectacular yet meaningful  community built works that resonate with locally derived history, energy and depthWith our combined technologies, creative engineering and effects, we create a sense of immersion, wrapping the audience in hypnotic visions from any of the dozen original shows in the troupe’s repertoire, along with custom-made performances for public projects and private commissions. Flam Chen are the exclusive flyers for Scream Awards and have flown and created performance for such luminaries as director Tim Burton and Spiderman/Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee.FLAM CHEN hosts and produces international performance artists at events in Tucson, AZ and collaborates in many projects throughout the year.  We perform benefits for many communities, multitudes of charitable organizations and are co-founders of the annual All Souls Procession Weekend which draws upwards of 20,000-30,000 participants region wide and performers and creatives from all over the world.Our non-profit affiliate, Many Mouths One Stomach (MMOS) has become a vanguard of cultural activity in the Southwest Region and beyond, organizing community events made in participation with the public and offering year round educational opportunities.  The All Souls Procession is North America’s largest, most unique and inclusive community ritual to honor the dead.last_img read more

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