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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Replace pitchers with a machine.


Now all that work to normalize data would become unnecessary.  OK, you'd also need to have uniform playing areas but the pitching machine is really the center piece.

If you want real competition between teams, i.e., the non-pitchers who play every day, then you need a uniform standard against which to measure their batting performances.  That's what I tried to achieve in my post comparing Willie Mays and Hank Aaron on the road but not in each other's parks. That's the best that you can get with annual data.  Better would be to compare each batter to each pitcher weighted by plate appearances or at bats as appropriate.

Monday, June 3, 2013
Mays and Aaron on the road against the other teams 1954-1968.

It eliminates:
- home park
- playing in each other's parks
- batting against each other's pitchers.

Using annual data, it is the most neutral and fair way to compare two players in the same league at the same time during peak seasons for both.

But with a pitching machine all that becomes unnecessary.  Every batter would face the same pitching, whatever that is determined to be by the league.  It could change over time but all batters would be able to face common pitching in a season.  Much better than gross adjustments like changing the height of the mound or unofficial changes to the strike zone.

By the way, my understanding of pitching is that originally it meant delivering the ball underhand to the batter.  Later the rule was changed to allow throwing overhand.  So, when you hear that this player is just a thrower and that he should learn to pitch that's exactly backwards.  You actually want the guy to throw.  If he were really pitching, he'd be tossing the ball underhand.

The machine supersedes all that.  Almost all balls delivered to the plate would probably be in the strike zone.  I've long called for the elimination of the catcher and replacing the imaginary strike zone with a fixed target, like an archery bull's eye.  And base runners must remain on the base until the ball is hit.  The pitching machine compliments that perfectly.

Ah, the dawn of a new day. Take that, Bud Selig!

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