I can’t think of a major award except maybe AL Cy Young which the top two or at best three candidates aren’t already known, but I just got this press release from MLB, regarding an announcement of finalists this Wednesday:
Prior to BBWAA Awards Week, for the first time ever, the five finalists in each league for the MVP Award and the three AL and NL finalists for the Cy Young, Manager of the Year and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year awards will be announced live during MLB Network’s BBWAA Awards Finalists Show this Wednesday, November 7 at 6:00 p.m. ET.
The actual awards will be handed out from Monday, November 12 to Thursday, November 15. Those announcements will be televised live on MLB Network at 6PM. A couple of hours later, you should note, than the awards are usually announced. Good move putting them a bit later in my view.
“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.
Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:
Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?
There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.
As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.