Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Numbers: Why Baseball Is Losing Popularity

In his Sports Illustrated column today (which you can read HERE), Tom Verducci has performed a statistical analysis explaining why baseball's popularity has waned in recent years.

"Hitting and pitching have evolved in ways that mean the baseball is put into play less frequently than ever before.  In April, 28 percent of all major league plate appearances ended in a walk or a strikeout, continuing what has been virtually an unchecked increase in such non-contact plate appearances since the game was invented. Ten years ago, for instance, the rate of plate appearances without the ball being put into play was 26 percent; 20 years ago it was 24 percent; 30 years ago it was 21 percent . . . all the way back to 15 percent in 1920."

"Baseball has become a game of catch between the pitcher and catcher more than ever before...Why is this happening? It's not because the 'quality of play' has diminished or the 'fundamentals' have gotten worse. It's actually the exact opposite. It's because players are better than ever, part of the natural evolution of teaching and training. Hitters are so good they can be more selective (and don't mind taking a full cut with two strikes), while pitchers must keep the ball out of the middle of the plate. The game is played on the margins of the strike zone, and not fully inside it, more than ever."


  1. They should just use those big red, bulbus, toddler bats... That'll liven it up. On a serious note, I would be curious to know if "in play" accounts for HRs as well, since those have also increased. comparing runs scored by forcing in runners vs runs scored by home runs. Then you have to ask do people go to the game to see a bunch of base hits or see em knock it out of the park?

  2. Jorge unintentionally tells us why baseball is declining: declining attention spans of fans. If you go to a baseball game to see home runs then you aren't really a fan, and you will find other more dramatic sports to watch.