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Tuesday 20th Feb 2018

Last weekend, during a thread where Larry Schechter noted he was happy I turned down an offer of some FAAB $$ for Jesse Hahn (I needed Hahn to cover injured arms), Yahoo's Scott Pianowski noted that the days of the pitchers with the 4.00 ERA and 1.30 WHIP were not only here, but that most of us would be thrilled with this.

The general consensus of the Tweets, however, was that pitching sucks. Surely there is truth to that it seems, but I also had to consider if pitching was worse, or if hitting had gotten better, since that is the logical other side of the equation.

I have been pretty vocal about what, to me, seems to be the lack of strike zone skill empolyed by hitters, for the three true outcomes--homers, whiffs, and walks--seem to be what the game entails and what the next generation of fans like.

But, just in perusing the stats, it did indeed seem to me that OBP was down all over Major League baseball these past few years, so that is why I puzzled at pitching being that much worse than hitting.

So, I went to the Baseball Reference for reassurance, and I was surely surprised by what I found, that OBP this year was its highest since 2010. 

In fact, here are the pitching and hitting numbers since 2010.

Note that numbers below are per nine innings. *=season in progress

2017* .324 3.27 8.23 1.26
2016 .322 3.11 8.03 1.16
2015 .317 2.90 7.71 1.01
2014 .314 2.88 7.70 0.86
2013 .318 3.01 7.55 0.96
2012 .319 3.03 7.50 1.02
2011 .321 3.09 7.10 0.94
2010 .325 3.25 7.06 0.95

The corollating pitching numbers, for the season. *=half-season, roughly.

Year WHIP Total BB Total K Total HR
2017*  1.339 7654 19286 2962
2016  1.325 15088 38982 5610
2015  1.294 14073 37446 4909
2014  1.275 14020 37441 4186
2013  1.300 14640 36710 4661
2012  1.309 14709 36426 4552
2011  1.316 15018 34488 4613
2010 1.347  15778 34306 5042

I was indeed surprised by some of these totals. First, over the past 50 years, the Strikeout-Per-Nine total was 4.84, and that number has essentially been moving up since 1951, when the average crossed the "4" line for good, although this was still a decade before expansion.

Second, despite the fact that whiffs have steadily increased, essentially since the beginning of statistical time, homers-per-nine and walks-per-nine still seem to fluctuate.

Next, between 1992 and 2010, the league OBP never dropped below .330, while this season's 1.339 WHIP is lower than any league WHIP from 1992 until 2010.

All of which suggests that in general, both hitting and pitching are not only not worse than they have been, but the combo might actually be a bit better than we anticipated.

Of course, this season is still in progress, as noted, but as we manage our teams, maybe that context of "maybe things are not as bad as we perceive them" is worthy of embracing. 

I certainly am trying to.

Hit me up @lawrmichaels, and play the monthly Fantrax game against me for bragging rights. Sign up here.

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