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Baseball - team or individual game

Posted by mikelink45 , 12 July 2018 · 644 views

teamwork baseball putouts fielding
Baseball - team or individual game In the comments there were some discussions that I replied to with the statement that baseball is an individual game played as a team sport. I thought it might be worth exploring.

Start with the Pitcher and Batter. It is true that the catcher is a third wheel in this conversation. While the batter is concentrating and the Pitcher is dealing the other players must wait, watch and react. They are not part of the play until the ball is hit. If it is a homerun, they are no factor, if the result is a walk there is no team involvement, if it is a strikeout, only the catcher participates. This Washington Post story indicates that batters strike out 22.6 percent of the time this year https://www.washingt...=.217f7a6331e3 That means that the team gets involved 78% of the time.

In one 2013 study they said that 68% of pitches are hit (I think that has changed a lot) but even is it is true, that means 32% of the time no one has anything to do except for the catcher to toss the ball back to the pitcher. http://www.highheats...n-all-time-low/

If it is a fly out - one non pitcher is involved, if it is a Home Run we cannot credit team work to those who watch it go over the fence. With increased launch angle and increased use of infield shifts the flyball has been increasing. Typically it is just one outfielder, unless there is a lack of communications.

A ground ball out is high on teamwork - usually two or more players are involved and with runners on base the intensity increases. Ground ball pitchers definitely require a higher teamwork percent. And double and triple plays ratchet up the teamwork.

Fangraphs says that balls hit are on average 21% line drive (one fielder) 44% ground balls, multiple players, 35% Fly balls (one fielder) and 11% infield flies (one player). https://www.fangraph...g/batted-ball/

If I assume that 22% are strikeouts and 78% are put in play and 44% of them are ground balls (34% of the total) the remainder are individual flyball experiences. My team work formula would put the majority of the plays into 2 player situations (taking strikeouts as a catcher/pitcher combo).

So flip the player to offense. Batting is about as individual as you can get unless the previous player set you up for an intentional walk. Sure we can have those smart at bats that take a lot of pitches and wear down the opposition and bring in the heat throwing relievers, we can have a sacrifice to put the runner in scoring position or a stolen base, but most of the time it is just throw and hit. I give offensive baseball an even lower team work quotient.

This reflects on the overall importance of the manager too. Put the right players in at the right position and quess who will be the most effective batters and relief pitchers and the job is done.

This quote captures some of the essence of the individual experience of the game - Baseball is a team game but, at the same time, it's a very lonely game: unlike in soccer or basketball, where players roam around, in baseball everyone has their little plot of the field to tend. When the action comes to you, the spotlight is on you but no one can help you. Chad Harbach
Read more at: [url="""]https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/chad_harbach_491154[/url]

The Author of Group Genius - Dr R. Keith Sawyer says - "A baseball team doesn’t look like an improvising group, and frankly, doesn’t look much like a business team either. The reason is that in baseball, each team member’s contributions are relatively independent. As Pete Rose once said, “Baseball is a team game, but nine men who reach their individual goals make a nice team.” It’s rare that more than one player is involved in a play. More than just about any other team sport, the overall performance of the team is additive." https://www.huffingt...am_b_50071.html

Peter Gammons in an excellent essay says "Unfortunately, the sad reality is that once a player starts his Minor League career, the game really changes. Minor league rosters change daily, with players being called up, sent down, as well as released. It is highly unlikely to play with a teammate for 3-4 years like in college, which only adds to the lack of the team game.
"Players become far more interested in their personal performance, than the performance of the team. While it is always more fun when the team wins, winning takes a back door to personal statistics as players are working towards individual promotions and making their way up the Minor League ranks, with the hopes of one day cracking a Major League roster.
"Front Office and Player Development personnel also take valuing personal performance over team performance in Minor League Baseball. They are far more concerned with the development of a young prospect who could one day make a big impact with the Major League Club, than whether their Single-A or Double-A affiliate is going to compete for the playoffs." http://www.gammonsda...it-a-team-game/

In 2017 Mookie Betts had the most put outs by a right fielder - 366. For a 162 game season if all games go 9 innings each team records 4374 outs. He recorded .08% of the teams outs. For most of the other 92 he was backing up or watching. And CFs on average handle 15 - 30 more outs per year. https://www.baseball...g-leaders.shtml

A final thought - how many players negotiate on the basis of their teamwork?

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