Simmons: There will be more contact, less K

COOPERSTOWN, New York – As part of his eloquent Hall of Fame induction speech on Wednesday, Ted Simmons commented on the trends of recent years in the major leagues.

Specifically, he touched on the dominant “three outcomes” of each shift: home run, walk or strikeout.

Coming to Wednesday, Major League Baseball teams struck out 8.72 times per game in 2021. That number has been rising almost every season in the past 50 years. To put that in context, during the 1978 season — the year Simmons had a 148 OPS +, in the midst of his career peak — Major League Baseball lineups struck out 4.77 times per game.

Similarly, the proportion of runs produced by home runs has risen and walks have largely supplanted the ball in play and the “small ball” to put runners in circulation and try to build a rally.

“Walks, strikeouts and home runs is basically what you see,” said Simmons, who not only played 21 major league seasons at a Hall of Fame level, but was also a general manager, director of development and multi-scout. Major League teams.

At 72, Simmons believes baseball can return to its style of more contact, more hits, more stolen bases, more fastballs in the strike zone, fewer strikeouts, fewer walks and less dependence on the home run.

“Our game can change and go back to what it was before,” said the former all-star receiver for the Cardinals, Brewers and Braves. “Eventually, another George Brett (inducted into the 1999 Hall of Fame) will reappear. He’ll hit .360, hit 40 home runs. It will push 160 runs. He will strike out 75 times. He will negotiate 100 walks. His on-base percentage will be .420 ”.

Another hurdle for hitters, aside from how the speed and turnover rate of modern pitchers has gone up, is defensive adjustment based on advanced analytics. Simmons believes that the offense will be able to triumph again, with everything and that.

“Our game is fluid,” he said. “The hitters will start to beat the shift. And the pendulum will swing again in the other direction. The game evolves. It’s just a matter of time”.