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Are ballplayers today better than previous eras?

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Postby stevekahuda » Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:35 pm

I'm not saying the level of talent has significantly declined, I just think that the teams from the 50s were very strong and could compete today. Also, do you really think the Braves bullpen would have existed back then :*) - Those guys stink

As for players looking slower on film from previous eras...

I'm not sure what's goes on as film ages, but everything looks slower. I've seen video of Bo Jackson where he looks slow, but he's faster than everyone around him. Same thing with Jim Brown, or if you see video from the early 49ers teams. I know those guys were blazing fast. Yet they look slow. I don't have an explanation for this, but I would imagine speed hasn't changed too significantly in that time. In particular, when it comes to bat speed there is a certain minimum bat speed one needs to hit a ball coming in at 90-95 mph. If they were really swinging as slowly as it looks, they couldn't even touch the ball. If anyone has an explanation for this, I'm actually interested (no sarcasm is intended)
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Postby master453 » Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:58 pm

i think that given the greater pool of players (foreign, and increased domestic minority involvement) and modern performance enhancers (weight training, supplements, year round conditioning, and yes illegal stuff) that the 25th man on rosters today is MUCH stronger than its ever been. probably the core of major leaguers (avg player) is better as well. however, i think the elite level players of eras prior would still be elite level players today.
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Postby djack909 » Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:16 pm

I have been watching MLB since '47. Todays Orieles would beat Earl Weavers WS champ team with ease. Casey Stengels Yankees would lose to the Palehose, Tigers, and BoSox.
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Postby phunkadelic » Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:37 pm

stevekahuda wrote:In particular, when it comes to bat speed there is a certain minimum bat speed one needs to hit a ball coming in at 90-95 mph. If they were really swinging as slowly as it looks, they couldn't even touch the ball. If anyone has an explanation for this, I'm actually interested (no sarcasm is intended)


That's not true at all. Anyone could lay down a bunt (i.e. zero bat speed) and hit a 130mph fastball back into the field. It doesn't matter how slow you're swinging, as long as your bat is perpendicular to the line of approach of the ball at the exact moment it contacts the ball, the ball will be hit back in the direction it came from (assuming it didn't have a wicked spin on it).
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Postby phunkadelic » Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:47 pm

To answer the question at hand - yes - there is no doubt that baseball players are better today than they were 100 year ago.

- From increased population to internationalization of the game, there is a much larger pool of people to choose from to get the best athletes.
- Increased salaries make for a much higher incentive to play. A great athlete 60 years ago may have chosen to be an electrician because they may have made more money in that field of work.
- Increased salaries allow for sports players to not have to hold down another job - they can train all year long.
- Increased salaries and free agency push athletes to do everything possible to their bodies to try to compete against their peers for the highest salaries.
- HGH and steroids.
- Modern equipment and medicine.

None of this however means that greater or fewer modern athletes deserve to be in the HOF, that's an entirely different discussion.
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Re: Are ballplayers today better than previous eras?

Postby ukrneal » Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:45 pm

bellings wrote:This is going to come up in every of these HOF threads getting started, so lets just pull it out and discuss how current players stack up against previous eras.

I say they are better atheletes. For my evidence, let's look at every sport that relies on a measurement. I can't think of any sport where the athletes haven't broken the world record in the last 20 years: long jump, high jump, javlin; the running events get their records broken all the time. Compare these records to the records set by athletes when the Babe was playing baseball. I bet that some current ballplayers would be able to break the records set by track and field professionals in the 20's and 30's.

So basically, there is no reason to keep a player out of the HOF because he is "only" good for the current era. If he's good in the current era, he would have ripped it up in a previous era.


I'm not sure it is a meaningful distinction in the end. All of us compare ball players to the current stars, top peers (at that position), the best ever, the best at that position, all players at that positions, etc. And all of them are valid.

wkelly91 came up with some great points on just why it is so difficult to compare. Let me add one:

10a) Players played fewer games in the past. The records from those eras are not entirely comparable. What if Ruth had had a few more games? I'm sure he would have passed 60HR.
10b) Pitchers pitched longer and more often.

If you take a modern day starter and put him into nearly any other era, do you think all that extra conditioning will make a difference? Pitching 300 innings is a huge change from pitching 200.

It can be fun to talk about, and the beauty is that everyone is right, because we'll never know.
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Postby ttwarrior1 » Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:55 pm

no because im 34 and everytime i play ball with the teens and people in early 20's, they all act like i must of been some star at one point. Im like no, im not as good, just smarter
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Postby Tavish » Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:06 pm

As far as natural skill or aptitude for baseball, no. I don't think the players today are any better than since the game became a truly professional sport. They have better training, better preperation, play from younger ages in more organized events, have access to greater medical treatment, are asked to do more specialized tasks, etc.

It doesn't make them better players in my mind, just more highly trained. Over the years players have slowly become less reliant on natural talent and more on most practiced. The superstars now are the ones that have both, when in the past you could become great with just the talent.
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Postby HOOTIE » Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:00 pm

Art Vandelay wrote:Of course they're better today. If you took any team as it is today, and plunked it into a previous era (assuming they get to keep their knowledge and use of scientific advances that have helped the game) they would absolutely dominate. Same goes for just about every sport.


I don't agree. Better training and equipment, but worse fundamentals now. If guys are better now, why can't anyone pitch 300 innings, throw 15 complete games? Players are much more babied now (because of salaries). I would love to see the old great hitters tee off on bums like Guardado. Guardado wouldn't be in MLB pre expansion, or 300 guys like him.
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Postby noseeum » Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:36 pm

HOOTIE wrote:
Art Vandelay wrote:Of course they're better today. If you took any team as it is today, and plunked it into a previous era (assuming they get to keep their knowledge and use of scientific advances that have helped the game) they would absolutely dominate. Same goes for just about every sport.


I don't agree. Better training and equipment, but worse fundamentals now. If guys are better now, why can't anyone pitch 300 innings, throw 15 complete games? Players are much more babied now (because of salaries). I would love to see the old great hitters tee off on bums like Guardado. Guardado wouldn't be in MLB pre expansion, or 300 guys like him.


You can't pitch 300 innings if you only get 32 starts. 5 man rotation pretty much makes that impossible.
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