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World Series Gave Glimpse Of Future Of Baseball

Mark J. Terrill
AP Photo
Houston Astros' George Springer, right, hits a two-run home run off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yu Darvish, of Japan, during the second inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles.

Major League Baseball is now officially in the offseason with the end of the World Series between the Dodgers and Astros last week.

But KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel says there’s still a lot to talk about regarding the series, the future of baseball and how the Mariners fit into it all. 

Analytics 'Changed The Game'

Thiel said the exciting, seven-game World Series was one for the record books, particularly when it came to home runs and strikeouts.

"What we're seeing here is the real impact of analytics and big data in baseball," he said.

"It's really changed the game. It's not just a way to watch the game in a different manner. It's affected the game."

"This started several years ago when the defensive shifts became very popular."

"You can see that all the time now where defenses are put in the place where the batter has most likely hit the ball, based on his history."

"The counterpunch was teaching players not to hit the ball on the ground anymore where the fielders were but hitting it over their heads."

"So, all teams now are coaching their hitters to swing with a bit of an uppercut. They want the fly balls."

"For years and years, it was a ground-ball game, and now it's changed abruptly."

Faster Pitches

"Batters are also facing so many young, fire-balling relief pitchers throwing 100 miles an hour or more. And they're always throwing strikes. So, it's basically kind of a test of strength."

"A lot of people don't like it. A lot of people enjoy station-to-station baseball."

"But big data has influenced the game, and it's hit the ball or strike out ,and that's the way of the future."

Diaz: Mariners' 100-mph Man

Thiel pointed out the Mariners have a relief pitcher who can throw that fast: Edwin Diaz.

"He's the classic example of a guy who throws a lot of heat and gives up a lot of home runs, gets a lot of strikeouts."

"So, what you're seeing in Edwin Diaz is what was part of the bullpens of the Astros and of the Dodgers. That's the future."

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Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.