How can Major League Baseball get more balls in play? Rick Sutcliffe, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 1984 with the Chicago Cubs, has an idea. Either lower or just completely do away with pitcher’s mounds.
I've said on @espn for years now if @MLB wants more action in our game do what they did prior to 1969! The mound was lowered from 15" to 10" Why was there a mound to begin with? QBs aren't elevated to throw a pass. ##JustSayin
— Rick Sutcliffe (@Sut_ESPN) June 4, 2018
It clearly worked then.
The 1968 season is generally regarded as “The Year of the Pitcher.” Detroit Tigers ace Denny McLain became the first pitcher since 1934 to win 30 games, something no pitcher has done since. St. Louis Cardinals ace Bob Gibson, meanwhile, posted a 1.12 ERA, a live-ball era record.
But it wasn’t just those two. The league ERA was 2.98, the WHIP was 1.19, and the K/9 rate was 5.8. A year later, the K/9 rate was 5.8 again, but the league ERA was 3.61, the WHIP was 1.32.
So, history has shown that this works.
But while it’s certainly notable to hear such an idea coming from a former pitcher, it’s unlikely that such a dramatic change is coming.
Remember, we saw a league record for home runs hit in 2017. The numbers are down this year, but it’s not as though the hitter’s are completely overmatched. The strikeouts are up, but that’s a product of the era.
In all likelihood, it will take more than just one year in which the offensive numbers are comparatively down to make such a dramatic change. But if the trends don’t reverse, it’s certainly a possibility.