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A Crazy, Stupid, Interesting (?) Way to Make Baseball Way More Exciting

Alright so this isn’t a super formal article it’s more just me writing stuff down for you to read.

Okay so apparently there’s a pace of play problem in baseball. I don’t think so but whatever. So here’s a crazy idea that would “make baseball more exciting”. None of that intentional walk BS. That’s useless.

Disclaimer: I am not suggesting this idea be used in a game because it’s really dumb.

What if instead of 4 balls for a walk and 3 strikes for a strikeout it was 1 ball for a walk and 1 strike for a strikeout? I mean, that would make it more exciting. Every pitch would result in a strikeout, walk, ball in play, or foul ball, basically. It would be the “get to the point” rule, I guess. It’s dumb, and it would ruin baseball, but what would happen if it were implemented?

So this would be like every pitch being a full count. It’s the same thing. So what if we used the stats from full counts in 2016, and compared them to the overall totals:

Full Count:

.215/.456/.366, .381 wOBA

Total 2016:

.255/.322/.417, .318 wOBA

So basically we’d see more runners on base, because a ball leads to a walk and a strike leads to a strikeout. Also, the soft hit % drops on a full count. BABIP increases 5 points on a full count, but that’s not that much.

This would also lead to a lot fewer pitching changes, if you think about it. I mean if you only pitched one pitch to each batter you would probably be able to pitch an entire game every game. This could help, because fans like seeing stars pitch instead of specialized relief pitchers; amirite Old Hoss Radbourn?

Anyways, with the increase in wOBA, there’s be an increase in plate appearances per game. With a .381 league wide wOBA, I estimate there’d be 80.1 plate appearances per game using historical data. This means that over an entire season, say 2016, we’d see about 10000 more plate appearances. However, this doesn’t make games longer. The majority of plate appearances would be 1–2 pitches (the average in 2016 was 1.42 pitches).

Here’s what happens to league numbers:

PA +5%

AB -19% (due to all the walks)

H -32%

HR -23%

BB +291% (!!!)

Baserunners +50%

Runs +47%

BA (.255 -> .211)

OBP (.322 -> .456)

SLG (.417 -> .366)

Okay, so hits and all of that goes down, and walks go up a lot.

So, the real question: does game time decrease?

In 2016, there were 715,823 pitches thrown. Under this new system, there would be 276,294 pitches thrown! That’s a huge drop off.

50% more baserunners, 47% more runs, and 61% fewer pitches. Seems like an interesting trade off.

Obviously, this idea sucks to baseball fans (I hate it). But to non baseball fans, like younger kids, getting rid of all of the pitches that “don’t matter” in their eyes is actually pretty important. If you knew that something interesting would happen every pitch of a baseball game, more people would watch. Also, with more baserunners, even if they come via walk, every pitch gets more intense as the inning goes along because of the runners on base.

Obviously, these numbers wouldn’t be exact. I’d imagine more strikeouts and fewer walks, as pitchers wouldn’t be as fatigued. With that, I’d imagine fewer relief pitchers. Also, there might need to be an automated strike zone for this to work. Every call matters, and it’s the difference between an out and a baserunner, not just the difference between a ball and a strike. So those numbers above estimates rather than exact values.

If you guys are interested I can adjust player stats from 2016 to match these rules. That should lead to some interesting numbers.

Again, this idea SUCKS and I’m in no way suggesting it. I would never approve this. Ever. It would ruin baseball. But… it’s a lot of fun to think about and felt it’d be fun to write about. Let me know what you think on Twitter.

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