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Morning Mound Visit: sabermetrics news - 6/7/18

Why strikeouts are really up; the shift works, in theory; the teams with the best position player and pitcher; the most competitive World Series’; Mr. Team AL

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

FanGraphs | Craig Edwards: A lot of fans grumble about the rise in strikeouts, and their knee-jerk reaction is usually something to the effect that batters “don’t care” about striking out and tailor their approach in favor of home runs. That’s completely wrong. Batters are striking out more for a very simple, banal reason: pitchers are throwing harder and throwing more off-speed pitches. There is an almost .9 correlation from both of those things to strikeout rate. Unless hitters magically get better or velocity starts to top off, there’s no closing this Pandora’s Box.

Baseball Prospectus | Russell Carleton ($): Carleton tackles the shift once again, and in particular, its “walk problem.” The shift is causing pitchers to throw an extra ball every 12 pitches or so, leading to more walks. In theory, though, the shift does work on balls in the zone and BABIP is not adversely affected if the pitcher were to suddenly decide to turn that extra ball of 12 into a strike. This means the shift works in theory or with the proper training, but not based on how pitchers are conditioned to think.

Bill James Online | Dave Fleming: Which teams had both the best pitcher and best position player in baseball in a season? It’s a rare feat, and it includes the 1986 Red Sox, the 1934 Yankees, the 1965 Giants, and quite a few other interesting ones.

The Hardball Times | Dave Jordan: What were the most competitive World Series of all time? The answer lies in Jordan’s custom-made score using series lead changes, comeback wins, and extra-inning games. It’s not entirely scientific but incredibly fun nonetheless.

Banished to the Pen | Alex Crisafulli: This is Part Two of the Mr. Team series, except with the American League.