The Downside of Baseball’s Data Revolution
Most revolutions have a downside (see October 1917). So too with baseball. The use of data analytics in baseball has changed the game in important ways — where fielders are positioned, how batters swing (to avoid ground balls), and how pitchers pitch. The result is more strikeouts, more home runs, and more mid-inning pitcher changes. 8.4 pitchers are used today in an average game, up from 5.8 30 years ago. That’s a big change. The pace of the game has slowed as a result, with an average of 5 minutes and 47 seconds between balls put in play. These statistics are presented in a fascinating article, well worth a read, by Brian Costs and Jared Diamond in today’s WSJ: The Downside of Baseball’s Data Revolution–Long Games, Less Action. Last night’s wild card game between the Twins and Yankees was a case in point. The game featured 11 pitchers (6 for the Twins, 5 for the Yankees, and took 3 hours and 51 minutes to come to a conclusion, ending after midnight. No wonder that young viewers are such a small share of the tv audience. Let the counter-revolution begin!