Clair: When is ‘good’ baseball actually bad for the sport?

From SABR member Michael Clair at The Platoon Advantage on April 23, 2013:

Baseball is changing and I worry if it’s at its own harm.

I’m not naive enough to think that the game hasn’t constantly been in a state of evolution. Equipment changes, improvements in medicine and training, clubs moving to cities and environments that didn’t use to hold teams, perhaps even the Fall network TV schedule– all have served to change the game in one way or another. In the 1920s and ’30s, batters ruled all, with teams averaging 5.55 runs per game in 1930 with the average batter hitting .296. The 1960s were pitcher dominated, with runs dropping to 3.69 per game by 1972 with the average player posting an OPS of .664, or roughly one Clint Pennington.

But these, as far as I know (and perhaps a better student of baseball’s history will correct me), were largely natural shifts that occurred, the pitching dominated 60s and early 70s changing only once MLB intervened with a rule change. And while I believe that sabermetrically inclined fans are some of the best that exist, being the ones dedicated to learning more about the game rather than simply enjoying it with mirthful ignorance, baseball’s latest shift has plenty to do with their hard-fought lessons.

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Originally published: April 23, 2013. Last Updated: April 23, 2013.