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RandBall: About the pace of play in major league baseball

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • May 27, 2014 - 6:00 PM

Here's the start of Tom Verducci's excellent piece on the drip-drip slow pace of play in MLB these days:

Do players and managers realize how much they have slowed the pace of action in a baseball game? That thought hit me like just another 97 mph fastball from just another fungible reliever as I watched one of the least appealing half innings in the history of the sport last week.

It happened in the top of the eighth inning in a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets at Citi Field. A half inning with no runs, no hits and just three balls put into play took 21 minutes, 44 seconds.

Chew on that some more: It took almost 22 minutes to play a scoreless, hitless half inning in which only three balls were put into play. (It took 4 hours, 9 minutes to play the whole game.)

The half inning was so tedious that it inspired me to take on a mission. Everybody complains about the pace of play in today's game, what with all the strikeouts, pitching changes, mound conferences and so much time between pitches. But it occurred to me that the players and managers don't even realize how much they have slowed the game in such a short period of time. So the Dodgers and Mets inspired me to define it for them.

Baseball clubs have adopted the term "actionable intelligence" from the military. It defines how analytical experts must distill all the big data available in the game today to useable, bite-sized chunks for the player. So here is my "actionable intelligence" for those wearing a major league uniform today:

In just 10 years you have added 29 minutes, 11 seconds of dead time per game while scoring 13.3 percent fewer runs.

You want to read more, right? You need to read more. The upshot is that time of game is a problem. But pace of play is the bigger problem. And he's right.

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