Dubuque: Looking at league-adjusted strikeouts

From Patrick Dubuque at The Hardball Times on March 11, 2016:

One of the pleasures of baseball lies in the ease of its translation. Though the game certainly has had its distinct eras, an evolution of rules and enforcement and training, the consistency of baseball is unrivaled by the like of football or basketball. Baseball has never had to struggle with a reconception of its most basic elements, like what a catch and a foul are; certainly, the game has changed, but in the past hundred years it’s at least recognizable.

But the statistical environment of different eras do obviously fluctuate, and we as fans struggle to encompass this. Not that we aren’t aware of it; we know a 3.00 ERA in 1968 means something very different than that same mark in 1999. But it requires an annoying internalized equation, a consistent demand to double the numbers and add 30. It leads us to rough approximations at best, and often lulls us to the siren’s song of the Fun Fact over the untranslated truth.

This isn’t intellectual dishonesty. Rate stats are all well and good, but nothing captures the heart like a milestone. Numbers like 3,000 hits and 300 wins and 500 home runs still pull at us, despite the fact that some of those lights have receded from or washed up on the shore. Even the benchmarks of our rate stats require constant supervision: the career K/9 of Nolan Ryan, for example, is 9.55, a strong number, and one just shy of James Shields’ 2015 season.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/league-adjusted-strikeouts/

Originally published: March 11, 2016. Last Updated: March 11, 2016.