Tell Me Something About the Future

In 2017, the fastball rate fell again. It’s been falling for some time now, but in 2017 it fell again, from 56.7% in 2016 to 55.6% last year. There’s some reason to think that the drop in the fastball rate is linked to the increase in baseball’s increasing swinging-strike rate, which in turn is linked to the rise in strikeouts and hit batsmen, and on and on and on. Baseball is a complex system of action and reaction, and small changes can grow large quickly.

So this year, I want to know: what do you think will happen to some of baseball’s key stats, league-wide, in 2018? Maybe you think home-run rates will go up and strikeouts will fall. Maybe you think if home-run rates go up then strikeout ratesĀ have to fall. Maybe you think it’s the other way around. I don’t know. But I want to hear from you, and most of all I want to hear why you think certain changes are linked, and others aren’t.

Below are a series of tables featuring 10 years’ worth of data for a few key metrics. I’ve also included percentage changes year over year. Below each table is a poll which asks you to indicate whether you think a given statistic will increase or decrease — and, if so, by how much. Answer each poll, if you wish, and then also indicate in the comments why you voted the way you did on one statistic and not others. In a year or so, I’ll come back to this and we’ll talk about it as a group. Maybe it’ll be interesting. Maybe it won’t! We’ll see.

Fastball Rate

Fastball Rate, 2008-2017
Year FB% FB% Delta
2008 60.7 n/a
2009 59.7 -1.65%
2010 58.7 -1.68%
2011 57.8 -1.53%
2012 57.6 -0.35%
2013 57.8 0.35%
2014 57.7 -0.17%
2015 57.7 0.00%
2016 56.7 -1.73%
2017 55.6 -1.94%

Walk Rate

Walk Rate, 2008-2017
Year BB% BB% Delta
2008 8.7 n/a
2009 8.9 2.30%
2010 8.5 -4.49%
2011 8.1 -4.71%
2012 8.0 -1.23%
2013 7.9 -1.25%
2014 7.6 -3.80%
2015 7.7 1.32%
2016 8.2 6.49%
2017 8.5 3.66%

Strikeout Rate

Strikeout Rate, 2008-2017
Year K% K% Delta
2008 17.5 n/a
2009 18.0 2.86%
2010 18.5 2.78%
2011 18.6 0.54%
2012 19.8 6.45%
2013 19.9 0.51%
2014 20.4 2.51%
2015 20.4 0.00%
2016 21.1 3.43%
2017 21.6 2.37%

Out-of-Zone Swing Rate

O-Swing%, 2008-2017
Year O-Swing% O-Swing% Delta
2008 24.9 n/a
2009 25.1 0.80%
2010 28.7 14.34%
2011 29.9 4.18%
2012 30.3 1.34%
2013 30.4 0.33%
2014 30.7 0.99%
2015 30.6 -0.33%
2016 30.3 -0.98%
2017 29.9 -1.32%

Contact Rate

Contact Rate, 2008-2017
Year Contact% Contact % Delta
2008 80.7 n/a
2009 80.5 -0.25%
2010 80.7 0.25%
2011 80.7 0.00%
2012 79.6 -1.36%
2013 79.4 -0.25%
2014 79.3 -0.13%
2015 78.8 -0.63%
2016 78.2 -0.76%
2017 77.5 -0.90%

Home-Run Rate per Fly Ball

Home-Run Rate per Fly Ball, 2008-2017
Year HR/FB HR/FB Delta
2008 10.1 n/a
2009 10.1 0.00%
2010 9.4 -6.93%
2011 9.7 3.19%
2012 11.3 16.49%
2013 10.5 -7.08%
2014 9.5 -9.52%
2015 11.4 20.00%
2016 12.8 12.28%
2017 13.7 7.03%





Rian Watt is a contributor to FanGraphs based in Seattle. His work has appeared at Vice, Baseball Prospectus, The Athletic, FiveThirtyEight, and some other places too. By day, he works with communities around the world to end homelessness.

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martyvan90
4 years ago

I’m guessing contact rates are up related to speed of play changes- or maybe I’m just hoping.