Razzball Baseball Podcast: Matt Harvey’s Suspension and Elon Musk’s Anti-Gravity Baseball Chamber

We don’t want to lead off every podcast by bashing the New York Mets, but they leave us no choice. Grey Albright and I get right into it with the Matt Harvey fiasco, before moving on to discuss the merits of Luis Severino, Freddie Freeman, Gerrit Cole, Andrew Benintendi, Corey Kluber, and many more. I then talk about MattTruss razzing me over winning last week’s Razzball Only FantasyDraft Contest due to a lack of competition. He’s stepping up to the plate and playing this week too, so make sure to JOIN THIS WEEK’S CONTEST and take both of us down. Finally, we close the show by dreading the ramifications of Arizona’s prospective humidor, and ponder what kind of anti-gravity chamber Elon Musk would come up with if he turned his focus to baseball. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Baseball Podcast:

Click here for the Razzball Baseball Podcast: Matt Harvey’s Suspension and Elon Musk’s Anti-Gravity Baseball Chamber

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

I Hate Technology

Without modern technology, my “website” would be me handing out pamphlets on the streets of Manhattan and my “podcast” would be me yelling about it into a megaphone. And instead of an “Imaginary Brick Wall,” I would likely be standing in front of a very real brick wall. But when my computer breaks, I want to smash it on the ground and yearn for a time when ground rule doubles were counted as home runs. If you haven’t figured it out yet, my computer won’t start, and if I don’t buy a new one it might take a few days to get this one fixed. There is a chance I won’t have a new post up until next week.

-Michael Halpern

MLB Broke Its Own Strikeout Record … Again

Strikeouts have reached an all-time high in Major League Baseball for an amazing 9th straight season. It was not even limited to the playing field, the players took a big swing and a miss on the new CBA too (I kid, I kid). This was not exactly hard to see coming. Here is what I wrote in my Top 25 Starting Pitcher Rankings back in March:

“Strikeouts have absolutely exploded around baseball. MLB averaged 7.8 K/9 in 2015, setting a new all-time record. That broke the previous record of 7.7 K/9 set in 2014, which broke the previous record of 7.6 K/9 set in 2013. In fact, MLB has broken its own all-time K/9 and total strikeout record every season since 2008. You can find those all-time stats here. It’s actually pretty cool to look at. And the 2016 top 25 starting pitchers have all contributed more than their fair share into ushering in this new era of the strikeout. Will we see 7.9 K/9 in 2016?”

We did not see 7.9 K/9 in 2016. It rocketed straight through that to 8.1 K/9. Assuming you watched every at-bat of every game, like any good fan should, you saw 1,536 more strikeouts than you did in 2015. There was a total of 38,982 strikeouts this season. For comparisons sake, there were 175 strikeouts (0.7 K/9) in 1871, 20,212 strikeouts (4.8 K/9) in 1980, and 30,644 strikeouts (6.4 K/9) in 2005.

Coinciding with the spike in strikeouts, and probably the main reason for it, average fastball velocity has risen every year since 2008, as well, going from 90.9 MPH to an all-time high of 92.6 MPH in 2016. Higher velocity leads to more strikeouts which should lead to less offense. This mostly held true during the recent strikeout boom, with runs per game reaching lows in 2014 that we have not seen since the pre-steroid era. But 2016 was the year hitters started to fight fire with fire. They ripped the second most homeruns in baseball history, trailing only the steroid infused 2000 season by 83 homers, or .01 per game. Maybe batters started to realize that they better do damage when they do actually make contact. That means hitting the ball harder and in the air. Or maybe MLB executives took matters into their own hands, and juiced the balls. Either way, baseball has finally proven the old adage, “the harder they come in, the farther they go out.”

The only thing that could stop this current strikeout epidemic, or even hope to contain it, are injuries. Higher pitch velocities have been loosely linked to a greater chance of needing Tommy John surgery. Some pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka, who have already had an elbow scare, have transitioned into throwing their sinking 2-seamer more than their 4-seamer, sacrificing velocity for movement. Other than that, there does not seem to be an end in sight to this strikeout surge, especially with starters not being allowed to see a lineup a 3rd time through and the continued rise of bullpen specialization.

We are firmly entrenched in the era of the K, but luckily for fans of offense, hitters have started to adjust. After over 100 years of baseball, the game is being whittled down to its two most efficient outcomes, the strikeout and the homer. The only question left is, will we ever see 9.0 K/9?

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

Good News, Bad News (2016 End of Season Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings)

The good news is that I am expanding the 2016 End of Season Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings to a top 35. The bad news is that it won’t be finished until Friday. No joke, I just need more time to deliberate on a lot of tough decisions. Make sure to check out the top 20 (1-10 and 11-20) if you haven’t already.

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

Razzball Prospect Podcast: Arizona Fall League Edition

Forget Saturday morning cartoons, Ralph and Halp are invading your weekends this off-season. On this episode of the Razzball Prospect Podcast, we talk about all of the standout Arizona Fall League performances, and also why Michael Kopech will now make sure to hit 100 MPH in every start just for Keith Law.

Click here for the Razzball Prospect Podcast: Arizona Fall League Edition

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

Episode 6 – Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast

Episode 6 of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast is up! We start with getting an inside look at the inner workings of the Lifshitz household, and then move on to talk about some of the hot names of the week (Buxton, Murphy, Tapia, Otani). Ralph and I then continue our rankings series with a look at the top OF prospects.

Click here for Episode 6 of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast

By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

Razzball Baseball Podcast

Grey is on vacation, so that means Ralph Lifshitz and I take over the Razzball Baseball Podcast this week (JB stuck around to host this shindig). We talk September call-ups, and have a moment of silence for one of the best comedians ever, Gene Wilder.

Click here to listen to the Razzball Baseball Podcast

By Michael Halpern
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)

Episode 3 – Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast

Aaron Judge! Gary Sanchez! Dansby Swanson! Ralph Lifshitz and I talk about all the buzzy prospects of the past week, and then bring in our first ever guest, Razzball’s resident Milwaukee Brewers fan, JB Gilpin, to help us rank Milwaukee’s stacked farm system.

Click here for Episode 3 of the Razzball Prospect Podcast

By Michael Halpern
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)