Last week I asked the following question:
From 1988 to 2009, by how many pitches did the median number of pitches thrown in a game by starters change?
The answer: the median number of pitches declined by one, falling from 100 to 99. As the box plot below shows, the median has remained close to constant over the past two decades. The line in the middle of each box marks the median, the edges of the box mark the 25th–75th percentile range, and the whiskers mark the 5th–95th percentile range. If you are wondering how the mean changed, it declined from 97.4 to 96.5.
Does this means that despite all the lip service paid to pitch limits teams aren’t paying any more attention to pitch counts than they used to? Not at all. The average may have stayed the same, but the extremes have fallen on the high and low sides. Pitchers aren’t just throwing fewer long outings, they are also pitching fewer short outings. The diagram below graphs the maximum pitches thrown in a game by year, and it shows a significant drop.