“Baseball these days is like a collection of problems with answers attached to it. it’s not fun.”
Darvish Yu (37, San Diego) expressed regret about Major League Baseball in the era of the ‘data revolution’. As the influence of data increased, the players themselves had no room to worry and their interest halved.
Darvish revealed this in a conversation with Munenori Kawasaki (42) hosted by Japan’s TBS broadcasting on the 30th. As an infielder for the Japanese national team, Kawasaki faced Korea several times and also played five seasons in the major leagues.
Darvish said in an interview that 안전놀이터 today’s major league pitcher has come to an era where information such as ball rotation and release point can be checked even during the game. Based on this data, it is now possible for any pitcher to find an optimized answer. Hitters have also been able to easily find the ideal ball launch angle based on data, and everyone said they move according to the answer. Darvish said that baseball is no fun.
Darvish’s attitude does not originate from a dislike of data. Quite the opposite. Darvish is known as a player who actively utilizes data more than anyone else.
In an interview, Darvish said, “I couldn’t understand why Toshiya Sugiuchi’s change-up was so good in the past, or why batters swung so badly at Kyuji Fujikawa’s fast ball. These days, data can tell you all of that,” he said.
His argument is that in the era of data revolution, the need for individual players to think and study is gradually decreasing. Because data provides answers. This claim is also in line with the remarks of Ichiro Suzuki in the past. At a retirement conference in 2019, Ichiro said, “Compared to when I just came to the United States in 2001, I am playing a completely different baseball now in 2019. It seems that I can play baseball without using my head.”
If 100 players struggle to find 100 answers, 100 baseballs come out. Baseball in the era of the data revolution is different. Clubs and players move according to one answer provided by the data. Efficiency may be maximized, but fun is diminished. Darvish and Ichiro pointed out this part.
Their criticism cannot be dismissed simply as a difference in baseball views between the United States and Japan. The major leagues themselves have been struggling with similar concerns for years. Roster leader Theo Epstein, who won consecutive championships for the Boston and Chicago Cubs, stepped down as Cubs general manager in 2020 and said, “People like me have had a negative impact on the artistic and entertainment values of baseball.” It is said that as a result of people like him leading the data revolution, baseball has become standardized and the fun has fallen.
Since the rise of data baseball, major league clubs have largely moved in one direction. Pitchers strike out, hitters focus on hitting home runs. As a result, home runs and strikeouts increased significantly, but ‘hit and run’ inflation decreased. Baseball is becoming more and more a static sport.
In September of last year, the Major League Secretariat passed a rule amendment bill that bans defensive shifts and expands the base size. The intention is to create a more dynamic baseball. However, it is still unknown how effective the Secretariat’s efforts will be in the midst of the strong flow of the data revolution.