Sarris: How would we increase balls in play?

From SABR member Eno Sarris at FanGraphs on August 18, 2017:

There’s a difference between watching the game at home and watching at the park, that much is obvious. Personally, I’m more analytical at home, where I have the tools to identify pitch type and location with some precision, for example. At the field, I can only tell velocity and maybe spot the curveballs, so I get an adult soda, a good companion, and I talk and wait.

What am I waiting for? “People go to the game to see us put the ball in play, throw the ball away, and fall down,” Giants starter Jeff Samardzija told me the other day. “They want to see people doing things,” said Indians slugger Jay Bruce. I couldn’t disagree. The problem, if this is true, is that baseball is trending in the opposite direction. There are fewer balls in play now than at any other point in the history of the sport. There’s less of people doing things, to use Bruce’s words.

 Define balls in play as anything other than a walk, hit by pitch, strikeout, or home run, and you can see the trend back to the very beginning of baseball.

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Originally published: August 18, 2017. Last Updated: August 18, 2017.