Are today’s hitters actually better?

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Sep 10, 2019
48
8
Todays hitters are better. There is a physical aspect to hitting. Todays players are bigger, faster, stronger.
In conjunction with rule changes, technology changes, PEDS, and sports politics, “farther, faster, stronger” has been a continuous foreword progression, maybe until now, right?
 
Mar 4, 2015
338
63
New England
I was watching the 95 World Series, and they gave the stats of the Indians in 95. They batted .290 as a team, lead in stolen bases and had 8 starting players hitting .300+.

Several teams hit .300 in the 1930s. Yogi Berra struck out only 12 times while hitting .322 with 28 homers in 1950. None of that is humanly possible against today's pitchers, IMO, and it's certainly not evidence that 5-foot-7, 185-pound Yogi was a better hitter than Buster Posey. If they traded places in a time machine, I'd predict a better outcome for Buster.

Today's hitters are better. It's partly physical, as others have described, but it's also just more competitive today, with more and more players playing year-round and getting better training, plus a larger pool of prospects as the sport taps more and more into Latin America and Asia.

There's also an accumulation of knowledge that comes through time and experience, whether that's training methods or hitting mechanics/theories. Each generation knows a little more about hitting than the one before.
 
May 11, 2014
191
28
If hitters got better and pitchers got better then why hasn't the numbers/averages remained constant. Also remember there was less teams in the 1950's compared to now, what would the hitters numbers be if they eliminated the bottom half of the pitchers.
 
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Sep 19, 2018
603
63
If today's hitters are so much better, why did mlb have to change the ball to make it carry farther
because they are trying to attract viewers and the long ball is theatrically more exciting than a bunch of singles.

Edit: I am wondering if the powers that be are kicking themselves a little bit. With the focus on the longball and the number of strikeouts, the game has become a tough watch for me. I don't even consider watching anyone but my team (the Yankees and even that is hard at times), but I'll watch just about any college softball. I wonder if I am not alone in this.
 
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Jun 11, 2013
2,359
83
If hitters got better and pitchers got better then why hasn't the numbers/averages remained constant. Also remember there was less teams in the 1950's compared to now, what would the hitters numbers be if they eliminated the bottom half of the pitchers.
Don't forget that defense has dramatically improved both by having better athletes and the advanced metrics which take so many hits away from players. Also stadiums are smaller which makes for a lot of HR's but also allows the OF to play closer which takes away so many bloop hits,etc while at the same time making it more attractive to try and hit HR's versus hitting for average.
 
Nov 26, 2010
4,498
113
Michigan
That is an appeal to extremes and also a red herring.

The physical aspects to hitting need not be confined to strength. Todays hitters are better on average (as well as todays pitchers are better).
Really the MLB league batting average this year was pretty anemic. Any proof to offer that the hitters are better?
 
Aug 29, 2011
2,489
63
NorCal

There are some interesting things that have gone on with MLB batting averages over the last 100 years and can be grouped loosely in the following bands
Years ---- Min Ave - Max Ave for league in period all other league averages are in the stated range during the period.
1920-39: .273 - .292
1940-62: .250 - .267
1963-72: .244 - .250
1973-93: .254 - .265
1994-09: .262 - .270
2010-21: .244 -.251

Interestingly prior to 1993, the league as a whole slugged .400 or better just 3 times in it's history. 1987, 1977, 1950 - the high was .415 in 1987.
From 1993 - 2021 the league slugged over .400 in all but 2 years 2013, 2014 and slugged an astounding .432 in 2006 which is still the all time high.

So were hitters in the 20s & 30s "the best"?
Did people in the 60s forget how to hit?
How much did PED fuel the run of the 90s and 00s?

One thing that has a steady increase since the 1990 is K/9 which has grown pretty linearly from just under 6 at the start of the period to just under 9 now.
I think that has a lot to do with pitchers increase in velocity, increased use of video to better slot pitch release "or tunneling of pitches" and improvements made to spin rates (even if some of those may have been a spidery bit of a sticky wicket) and the increase number of relievers who come out throwing hot gas for 3 to 8 batters at a time.

Oh yeah and this from a CBS article https://www.cbsnews.com/news/baseball-pitchers-velocity-increase/

According to data from Fangraphs and Statcast, the average major league fastball has improved 3.8 miles an hour in the past 20 years, and the number of pitches at or above 100 mph has jumped from a couple hundred in a season, to what could be nearly a couple thousand this year.
 
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Aug 29, 2011
2,489
63
NorCal
If hitters got better and pitchers got better then why hasn't the numbers/averages remained constant. Also remember there was less teams in the 1950's compared to now, what would the hitters numbers be if they eliminated the bottom half of the pitchers.
In the 1950 the US population was 158M, today it's 332M.
In 1950 foreign born players from Latin America, Asia and other areas were rarities, today the international pool of players that MLB draws from has also expanded greatly beyond US borders in the last 70 years.
 
May 11, 2014
191
28
Heard they measure pitch speed out of the hand now instead of at the plate. Imo strikeouts are up more because of the hitters approach than because of the pitchers, minus the spider tac
 
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