The Era of the Hit Batter

Steve Treder has a nice piece on the hit batter explosion of the modern era.

Thus today’s situation is fascinating in several regards. The incidence of hit batsmen in major league baseball has dramatically increased in the past couple of decades; a significant transformation has taken place in the very nature of the game. Yet this transformation has caught little notice, engaging neither broad contemplation nor comprehensive understanding.

Regular readers of Sabernomics know that I am fascinated by the topic. I will just list one link to a recent post on the subject. It would probably be easier to Google search for hit batters on this blog.

If you want to read more, a paper of mine on the relationship between hit batters and the designated hitter (co-authored with Doug Drinen), Crime and Punishment in Major League Baseball: The Case of the Designated Hitter and Hit Batters, has just been published by Economic Inquiry. Also, Chapter 1 of my book, “Accidents Happen…but More So in American League,” summarizes much of our research. And Chapter 8, “The Evolution of Baseball Talent,” discusses the impact of the distribution of talent on hit batters.

Update: David Pinto provides some support for the talent dilution hypothesis.

One Response “The Era of the Hit Batter”

  1. jon says:

    My instictive judgement about hit batters is three fold. First, is the designated hitter. Not just in the American league, but throughout baseball, in the minors and college. Second, is the increased padding players wear, when you have a hard plastic shell over your elbow or tricep, it just doesn’t hurt as much to get hit. Which leads to players diving out over the plate to reach the outside pitch. That is also why they can hit the ball out of the park to the opposite field with such regulariy. Finally, I think the biggest reason is that all players playing today grew up using batting helmets at every level of play. This takes away much of the fear factor. Players like Willie Mays and the other players of the sixties and seventies grew up hitting without helmets. They instictivley dove out of the way of pitches that were coming near their heads, now you batters freeze, because they “want” to get hit by the pitch that is coming towards their chest or back, instead of being worried htat they misjudged the elevation by 12 inches.