MLB Columnist: Baseball Is Hard To Watch

The game has become "all-or-nothing," Scott Miller says, and the "lack of action" is "absolutely a concern"

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
June 12, 2018 - 8:19 am

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If you’ve been watching baseball with any regularity this season – or the last couple of seasons – you know that home runs are up. So are strikeouts.

In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that a plate appearance will end with one of those two outcomes.

“It’s all-or-nothing – three-run homers or strikeouts, and it absolutely is a concern,” Bleacher Report MLB columnist Scott Miller said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Baseball’s got to figure it out – not just home runs and strikeouts, but the lack of action.”

In April, for the first time in Major League history, the game produced more strikeouts than hits. Plate appearances are ending with a strikeout, walk, or hit batter roughly 33 percent of the time – which is in line with what it’s been each of the last two seasons.

“This has become a trend,” Miller said. “This is three years in a row: strikeout, walk or hit batter. About a third of the time in today’s game, we watch the batter go to the plate, and then we watch him either walk back to the dugout after a strikeout or walk to first after a walk. A third of the time. That is (concerning). I don’t care how you break it down. Some people defend the game right now, especially the analytics people.”

Pitchers are throwing 98 miles per hour, they argue, so there are going to be more strikeouts. There are more defensive shifts, they say, so hitters will have a harder time getting on base.

But it’s not that simple.

“We have hitters trying to hit over the shift now instead of hitting the opposite way, so you hear so much about launch angles,” Miller said. “Now pitchers are throwing high fast balls, attacking the launch angles, and we’re just seeing strikeout after strikeout. I do think – and I know I’m not alone around the industry – a number of people (are concerned). Last week, Rob Manfred came out and said something. I think he’s looked at this very closely, and it is an issue. 

“It’s hard to watch right now,” Miller continued. “Those of us that love baseball, I’ve covered the game for almost 30 years. There’s some great things going on in the game, but the lack of balls put in play, it’s the hardest watch right now that I’ve seen in a long time.”