When everyone is super, no one will be. Baseball's descent into boredom and arm injuries

It's 1968 all over again. Pitching is dominating. And baseball seems clueless as to how to stop it.
World Series - New York Yankees v St. Louis Cardinals - Game Two
World Series - New York Yankees v St. Louis Cardinals - Game Two / James Drake/GettyImages
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Move the pitcher’s mound back while simultaneously raising the height of the pitcher’s mound 5 inches back to its 1968 height.  I have no empirical data or mathematical or physics calculations or anatomical expertise to support this suggestion.  Only half-baked theories.  So here are my theories.

  1. By moving the mound back, it will give hitters the extra milliseconds they need to better recognize pitches and get their swings off. It should thus result in more contact, fewer strikeouts, and thus more runs being scored.

2.       The added height on the mound will make up for the further distance pitchers have to throw the ball if the mound is moved back. By raising the mound, pitchers will have some added gravity to back their pitches.  Could raising the height of the mound possibly cause less strain on the arm?  Maybe, maybe not.  As I said this theory was half-baked with absolutely no scientific backing. 

But getting back to this lowering of the mound thing.  The MLB storyline is that the lowering of the pitcher's mound in 1969 solved the problem of pitcher dominance and resulted in more offense.  In 1969 the average runs per team per game increased from 3.42 in 1968 to 4.07 in 1969 and the average batting average increased from .237 in 1968 to .248 in 1969. 

But the detail that gets left out in that analysis is that in 1969 major league baseball expanded from 20 teams to 24 teams.  In 1969 the league welcomed the San Diego Padres, the Seattle Pilots, the Kanas City Royals, and the Montreal Expos to the Major Leagues.  That created openings for 100 extra baseball players, who otherwise would not have made a major league roster in the prior year.  Baseball expansion always produces more offense in the first year of expansion due to the dilution of pitching talent. 

Historically, the new teams are not good and their pitching is mediocre at best which leads to an uptick in offense as teams fatten their statistics off the expansion team’s poor pitching.  So, the uptick in offense in 1969 was not solely the result of lowering the pitcher’s mound, if that was a cause at all. The expansion of four new teams to the league also played a major part. For instance, MLB added two new teams (Toronto and Seattle) in 1977. This resulted in the average number of runs per team per game rising from 3.99 in 1976 to 4.47 in 1977. Similarly, in 1993, the last year that the MLB expanded, the addition of the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies led to an increase in average runs per game per team from 3.95 in 1992 to 4.60 in 1993. Of course, some of that increase could be attributed to the Mile High Stadium/Coors Field effect.

There is an interesting take on the lowering of the pitching mound in Jim Bouton’s book, Ball Four, which chronicled Bouton’s 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots. In the book, he discusses his teammate’s—Mike Marshall’s—theory on the lowered mound.  Here is the excerpt:

“Mike Marshall is a right-handed pitcher who was 15-9 in the Tiger’s organization last season.  He’s got a master’s degree from Michigan State.  He majored in mathematics.  He’s a cocky kid with a subtle sense of humor.  He’s been telling everybody that the new lower mound, which was supposed to help the hitters, actually shortens the distance the pitcher has to throw the ball.  It has to do with the hypotenuse of a right triangle decreasing as either side of the triangle decreases.  Therefore, says Marshall, any psychological advantage the hitters gain if the pitcher doesn’t stand tall out there will be offset by the pitchers knowing that they are closer to the plate.”