I’m not sure where I found the site, A Graphical History of Baseball, but after browsing it a bit yesterday, I found it amusing. It’s interesting to see the numbers broken down into a graph. It helps to identify trends fairly easily. Here were some that I found noteworthy, from a National League point of view.
Despite all the cry of OBP being the key to winning, we really haven’t seen that major surge upward since Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball. Perhaps teams have figured out that while OBP is important, it was simply something undervalued and available cheap for Billy Beane, which was the whole premise of the book. 1913 or so looks like a tough year for hitters, reaching just a tad over .290. It’s interesting to note major spikes in the data as well. Take a look at the spike in 1920. Here is the reason:
The Joint Rules Committee voted to ban the use of all foreign substances (saliva, resin, talcum powder, paraffin) as well as any other alterations (shine or emery) to balls by pitchers. As a result, the American League opted to allow two pitchers from each club the option to use a spitball for one more season. The Nationals set no limitations as long as all “practicing” pitchers were identified and any other pitcher who was caught cheating would be suspended for a minimum of ten days.
Are stolen bases really dying? If you look at the trend in the NL, which is widely considered the stolen base league, you notice that they declined consistently in the 20’s till the 70’s. If we take that trend, we should see the rise of the stolen base right around 2060. I look forward to that.
I wish the teams would stop building small parks. These small ballparks with little to no foul territory is killing off one of the most exciting plays in all of baseball, the triple. Really, is there anything more entertaining than watching that hitter round second and dig for third only to slide under the tag and look up to the umpire, his helmet flopping over his eyes, to see him wave “safe”. Bring back the triple.
Fielding in the beginning years of baseball…bad. Fielding in the modern era…good.