Posted: 2019-12-04 07:26:13 (ET) [ 859 views ]
The 2019 MLB Season was historic, fascinating, final and is now complete. So, what will be new for the 2020 season? Well, for one thing, there is a new ball park in Arlington, Texas which will change the average air density at game time for the Rangers, as well as for the visiting teams in 2020.
The 2019 Season is final for the now "former" Texas Ranger's ballpark in Arlington. The new ball park will immediately change the effectiveness of the Rangers. Look for the Rangers to "feel" special and to "play" more special because of the new ballpark. More than that; the team will be exposed to somewhat more movement on a daily basis, with lesser decreases in movement at home and therefore lesser big increases in movement to begin road transitions to sea-level venues.
Speaking of movement (that is--late movement on each pitch) and sea-level, cold weather movement vs "mid-west" and/or hot weather movement vs Colorado thin air movement, has anyone noticed how often it "is sea-level teams" winning the World Series? This year, both teams were from sea-level, but once again the Dodgers were ousted. Why do I point out the Dodgers?
The Dodgers are not a sea-level team, but one whose stadium is parked at 500 feet elevation in the Chavez Ravine. The players do not enjoy coastal temperatures causing additional movement as the stadium is far enough off the coast to allow for higher temperatures on a regular basis. Are they talented? Absolutely. Can they adjust to better movement during a game? Yes. So, why is the frequent lesser movement an issue for winning the World Series?
In my opinion, there are 3 issues that stack up against teams of hitters, which make a difference in the persuit of a World Series Title.
1. The Four-Seam Fastball
2. Professional Mental Focus
3. The "Pitch-Mix Spray"
As everyone knows--in baseball the hitter must connect within less than 1/4 of an inch of the center of the baseball with the "very" center of the bat to create hard contact on the ball and therefore more success. So, if the Four-Seamer is lifting toward a straighter path to the strike zone because of heavier air (cold sea-level) by 1/2 inch, for example; then that team of hitters has a reduced rate of hits per strike by a small overall percentage. More pop-ups, more foul balls, more strikeouts, more frustration. This has a little more effect on a non-sea level team that seldom experiences the larger increments of movement.
Mental Focus in professional sports is huge in competition. This concept is not new. The understanding that the wrong focus can cause poor decision-making, poor choices of which pitch to swing at, base running errors, and etc. is well documented and normally caused by over-thinking. Over thinking is caused from frustration at ones own production.....put the extra movement on the four-seamer in there for a 7 game series, and you have the beginnings of the recipe.
In heavier air than in the visiting teams' home stadium, not only is the four-seamer getting more verticle and horizontal movement, but also, the heavier air causes more curve to the downward breaking curveball. When a pitcher mixes in the sinker, the two-seamer, the cutter and etc., which off-set the use of the four-seamer, then there is a greater spread between pitch types "at the point of contact" for the frustrated "mid-west" (elev. & temp) hitter who is trying to keep that perfect focus required to advance toward the World Series Championship. This further spread on the "Pitch Spray" adds to the adjustment frustration, mental focus and therefore effectiveness by enough margin to create a huge challenge to the non-sea level teams transitioning to sea-level, colder temperature venues.
Will the Dodgers ever win another World Series? Of course, but will it become a regular or re-ocurring event? Most likely not.
Yes, there is. During the adjustment period for all teams, the teams of hitters are wading through a myriad of pitchers plus the unique pitch mix, speed, accuracy and decision-making of each. While this is normal, we (as observers) tend to focus more on the pitcher and his effectiveness than we do the hitters' level of adjustment.
I have alluded to this factor in many ways within the body of this website, but it is even more profound than I've previously described. Teams that are based at sea level are not by any means free from the tension and the frustration of competing in baseball. They are simply not faced with the extremes of increased movement differential from their home ballpark as often as are the non-sea level teams. That being said, the fourth component I am referring to, is the actual level of adjustment the team has settled into for today's game against the particular pitcher, or pitchers and the pitch-spray it will face.
While we have attempted to describe the level of adjustment for hitters via the VMI, the pitch-spray for the pitcher has not been described until we attached the Tight, Loose, Reverse gauge quantifier during this past season ( Home Pitcher: Martinez 0.9 hits/outing - Reverse: 18.26 ). This number tells you how Tight/Reverse is the pitcher, or how Loose does his pitch mix tend to be.
So, with this knowledge and the combination of hitters adjustment level versus the pitch-spray quantifier of the starting pitcher, we now have completed our Win-Loss formula and I must say; even the Las Vegas Odds are now behind us in overall win percent prediction.
Coming for 2020 will be a published location you will be able to view the Win-Loss prediction. Stay tuned.
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