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Is Moneyball Ruining Offense?

By Mike Silva ~ May 19th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva.

During last night’s Mets- Nationals game Ron Darling expressed surprise at how many players take 2-0 fastballs down the middle this year. This was in response to a Washington rally in the seventh that saw Roger Bernadina bail Jonathon Niese out by taking fastballs down the middle ahead of the count with the bases loaded. Keith Hernandez has lamented the passive approach to hitters in the booth as well. Even Bob Ojeda, back in the studio, has made a point to call out David Wright for taking too many pitches.

A week ago we talked about offense being down this year. The obvious culprit is the lack of performance enhancing drugs. I also pointed out how technology has made defenses better as spray charts allow managers to position their players with pinpoint accuracy. The plethora of video doesn’t allow any player to hide their deficiencies very long as they make their way around the league. Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long concurred with my theory during a recent conversation.

One theory I also might throw out there is what Darling, Hernandez, and Ojeda have discussed: passive hitting approach. With every team trying to work the count hitters have been taught that a walk is as good as a hit, even with runners on base, over the last decade. The strategy of working the count to get the starting pitcher out of the game might finally be backfiring.

Could this be quantified? You could take the percentage of strikes and swings at with the count 2-0, 2-1, 3-1. Personally, I think it’s more of a “look and feel” type of analysis that is best done by following the game over the course of the season. The eyes don’t lie, and they see a much more passive offensive approach throughout the league.

This analysis isn’t just from anyone. Hernandez in his prime would walk between 80 and 100 times in a season. Not exactly a hacker in the mold of Jeff Francoeur. Darling would know how getting hurt by meatballs ahead in the count as he led the National League in walks. Ojeda, never short on words, was one of the more underrated lefties during the eighties. When these guys talk, I listen, and they just might be on to something.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Is Moneyball Ruining Offense?

  1. RJT55

    Let’s say the Money Ball premise is correct. If the base on balls trend continues that might bring back the balance of years ago between swinging for the fences and working the walk or shortening the swing when the count is against the batter.

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