Lindbergh/Arthur: Older hitters are declining, but not because of fastballs

From SABR members Ben Lindbergh and Rob Arthur at FiveThirtyEight on April 11, 2016:

Although Major League Baseball’s audience is old enough to give golf a run for its erectile-dysfunction ad dollars, its player pool is skewing younger each year. Research suggests that players are peaking — and declining — more quickly, placing them in their primes ever earlier. It’s no coincidence that young stars such as Bryce Harper and Carlos Correa seem emboldened this spring, openly advocating a more demonstrative style of play. This is their game; modern MLB is no sport for old men.

As the game has gotten younger, it has also picked up the pace — and not just between pitches. The average (four-seam) fastball has sped up by about two miles per hour over the last decade, incinerating countless chyrons along the way. In the eight full seasons for which we have complete PITCHf/x data, the proportion of MLB fastballs topping 93 mph has increased by almost 50 percent, with the percentage breaking 95 mph nearly doubling and the share above 97 mph nearly quadrupling.

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