MLB: 1 Month Power Rankings

MLB: 1 Month Power Rankings

By: Jack Kennedy

*Note* Due to server issues this was not released on time, all standings and statistics are as of April 28th

1.Houston Astros (16-11)

With the best record in their division and one of the best overall, it’s hard to not put Houston at the top. Altuve is playing an MVP again and the rest of the offense is clicking like they were in 2017. Brantley is looking like an amazing pick-up, so far slashing .315/.373/.533 in 92 AB. Even more impressive as his OPS (.905) is only 5th on the team as Bregman (.971), Reddick (.970), Springer (.936), and Altuve (.915) are all ahead of him. Their team AVG (.281) tops the majors and their team OBP (.356) is second. And that is to say nothing about the pitching staff. Verlander is looking to continue his success after his extension, starting the season with a 2.61 ERA. While Cole’s 5.22 ERA may cause some concern, his 2.70 FIP indicates that he should return to his all-star 2018 campaign form. Their bullpen also looks strong with a 2.96 ERA.

2.Tampa Bay Rays (18-9)

Tampa comes in tops in the MLB. The look ready to compete this year and with Boston struggling should have no problem winning a wildcard spot, maybe even their division if they keep up this level of play. Leading the offensive charge is just centerfielder Austin Meadows. So far this year his .351 batting average is 4th in the American league and has 6 homeruns, showing some pop in his bat. On the mound we see two separate pieces that are the reason this team has been as dominant as it is. Blake Snell is continuing to pitch well after his 2018 Cy Young campaign, and should have another successful season. We likely will not see another 1.89 ERA like we did last year but I would expect him to come in around 2.7-2.8 this year, even if it were higher as his FIP suggests, he’s not even the best on the roster. Tyler Glasnow has turned into an absolute lawnmower and the players are the blades of grass. He so far posts a 1.53 ERA and a 2.64 FIP. Expect there to be 2 Cy Young candidates coming out of Tampa. Their team 3.07 ERA is also tops the majors.

3. New York Yankees (17-11)

I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to put them lower but with the year they are having you have to give the Bronx bombers credit. While the offseason may seem to be disappointing to fans, not landing Machado or Harper, they drastically improved their rotation and bullpen. Additions of Ottavino and keeping Britton help improve an already strong relief core and signing Happ and getting The Big Maple help fix the ERA problem the Bronx Bombers had last year, and when Severino returns you can expect this rotation to become one of the top 10 in baseball. Their ability to have a 17-11 record despite only having half of their starting lineup during a stretch this month earns them this spot on this list. While I can’t yet put them above other AL powerhouses, it will be interesting to see what getting the likes of Judge and Stanton back do for this squad.

4. LA Dodgers (19-11)

While it’s hard to put them above the Cardinals (due to being swept by them in a four-game series) I would argue that the dodgers show more sustainable success. Bellinger is playing like an MVP, bouncing back from a somewhat disappointing sophomore year and is returning to his rookie days of homering on command and has the highest batting average in the majors at .426, over 40 points higher than second place Tim Anderson. As of right now, Bellinger leads the majors in home runs, on base percentage, slugging, runs, RBIs, and average. Easily the MVP of April. The rest of the offense is impressing as well, Joc Pederson sitting comfortably at 10 homeruns on the year and a .380 OBP. Seager looks to come back strong and Kiki Hernandez is looking like a versatile utility player.  The reason I place them higher than the Cardinals comes with the rotation. The rotation to say the least has struggled. Other than Stripling who is so far posting an impressive 2.65 ERA, their starting staff does not look as sharp as it has in the past. Buehler specifically is hurting, posting a 5.25 ERA. His FIP suggests this should come down to high to mid 3s but with his impressive velocity and spin rate on his fastball I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished this year like his rookie one and post a sub 3 ERA. Kershaw also has only had 2 starts but has a 2.77 ERA in them, and while this number is lucky as he got knocked around a bit, he was able to come up clutch and prevent runs from going across the plate. He may no longer be the best pitcher in baseball but he likely will have another “down year” by posting a high 2s ERA. As of now the Dodgers are my pick to lose to an AL team in the World Series.

5. St. Louis Cardinals (17-10)

Obviously adding Paul Goldschmidt to the lineup was a big piece, and he will likely end up the best bat of the team, but their hottest hitter right now comes in the outfielder Marcel Ozuna. Ozuna leads his team in OPS at 1.010 (if he keeps this up Miami might have lost another MVP). He is only one piece of a very impressive lineup, DeJong and Kolton Wong are also turning into strong offensive threat. Their starting rotation is cause for concern, with Flaherty and Mikolas both posting and ERA over 5 so far. Their FIP does little to help their case, Flaherty and Mikolas posting a 5.01 and 6.04 respectively. On the bright side, their bullpen is a top 10 in the majors with a 3.84 collective ERA, and Jordan Hicks seems to be on the verge into turning into the next Chapman with his 104-mph heater.

6. Philadelphia Phillies (16-12)

Philadelphia is looking like the competitors they were hoping to be. Harper isn’t exactly putting up super star numbers but is fitting in perfectly with this Phillies offense. His .400 on base percentage should be around where he sits all year and helps put runners on for the Phillies perennial MVP candidate for years to come, Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins lead the majors in pitches seen per at bat, and continues to do so. His plate discipline combined with strong power and ability to put the ball in play make him a lethal player for the Phills and will likely be the make or break for their season. McCutchen and Segura are turning into strong offseason pickups, the latter being especially impressive. Segura comes in leading the Phillies in AVG at .324 and not only gets hits, but seems to always be over the score sheet with 13 R and 10 RBI in only 75 PA. The Phillies starting rotation is an interesting case, with arguably their two worst starters in the rotation are leading the team in ERA: Vince Velasquez and Jared Eickhoff. Eickhoff had an impressive rookie season way back in 2016, but since then has struggled with injuries and was looking doubtful if he would ever have success in the majors. His 2.77 ERA and 2.13 FIP indicate that he may be a strong candidate for comeback player of the year. Velasquez is currently an unsustainable ERA of 2.08, his FIP indicating that should increase sits at 4.19. Nola seemed to be a sign of concern, last years Cy Young candidate is currently posting a 5.68 ERA but seemed to have found his groove a few games ago after working out of a bases loaded jam in Colorado. If Nola can return to form and Eickhoff can complete the comeback this team will make some noise in October.

7. Cleveland Indians (15-11)

While the Indians sit second in their division, I have no doubt they will overtake the Twins. Their rotations thus far is posting a 3.55 ERA, and expect that only to improve when Clevinger returns. Trever Baur looks to continue to chase a Cy Young this year, so far having an ERA of 1.99. At first glance Corrasco’s 6 ERA would raise concern but his 2.70 FIP suggests he should return to his typical dominant self. The offense is suspect, with Carlos Santana being their strongest hitter so far. Their stars Lindor and Ramirez are struggles so far, but are coming off of injuries earlier might be affecting this. If the Indians want to compete this year their offense is going to need to supply come run support to this fantastic rotation.

8. Minnesota Twins (16-9)

The Twins are shocking everyone right now, and stand with the second-best record in the MLB. Jorge Polanco is swinging away and hitting everything he goes for, batting .337. Eddie Rosario is showing off the power he’s always had the potential to have, finishing this month with 11 home runs, topping the AL. The addition of Nelson Cruz has also added a potent power bat to the lineup. Their rotation is currently lead by Berrios, who has a 2.97 ERA. This rotation is the biggest cause for concern and the reason the Twins are not higher on this list, the rest of their starters all have ERAs over 4. Taylor Rodgers looks good in the pen but if they want to be serious competitors down the stretch we’re going to have to see more from their arms, starters and relievers

9. Milwaukee Brewers (15-14)

To be clear, the only thing putting the Brewers this high as of now is Christian Yelich. Yelich’s league tied 14 home runs, .353 AVG, and .460 OBP numbers are incredible. If Bellinger wasn’t making history of his own this would be the best April an NL player has had in recent memory. The Brew Crew does not have a set in stone rotation and I can see why, their team 5.19 ERA is 6th worst in the majors and are definitely a cause for concern. Even Josh Hader is showing some cracks in his normal unhittable self. Yelich will inevitable cool down, and when this happens the rest of the team needs to step up to support him for the team will just be watching in October.

10. New York Mets (14-13)

This second in the NL East squad is looking to come back after struggling recently this week. Going into the season they were expected to be a team carried by their rotation, but up until now it has been the bats winning games for them. Steve Matz is currently their best starter, thus far posting a 3.68 ERA. Syndergaard being the worst of them with a 6.35 ERA. The former sub 2 and Cy-Young winner Jacob DeGrom Is having difficulty as well with a 4.85. On the bright side, advanced statistics says that these pitchers are just getting very unlucky but none of them look like they are going to compete for the Cy Young this year. The bats are carrying this team, especially rookie of the year candidate Pete Alonso. Alonso was given the call up based off of availability and wasn’t expected to be a top prospect but is thundering his was into the majors. His team leading 9 home runs, .306 AVG, and .398 OBP secured a scary first baseman for the Mets that pitchers will fear in the middle of their lineup. Robinson Cano is struggling so car, only posting a .324 OBP but hopefully this improve and him and Alonso can create a dangerous righty lefty combo. Diaz, their other large acquisition, is looking as dominant as ever. The only pitcher I’ve seen have an ERA tie his WIP, Edwin Diaz has both at a .84. Unfortunately for the Mets he is being used only as strictly a closer, but should still provide a lights-out 9th inning on the road when up by 1 for the Mets.

The Rest

  • 11. Seattle Mariners (18-13)
  • 12. San Diego Padres (16-12)
  • 13. Arizona Diamondbacks (16-12)
  • 14. Chicago Cubs (13-12)
  • 15. Boston Red Sox (11-17)
  • 16. Texas Rangers (14-13)
  • 17. Atlanta Braves (13-14)
  • 18. Toronto Blue Jays (14-14)
  • 19. Washington Nationals (12-14)
  • 20. Pittsburgh Pirates (12-14)
  • 21. Oakland Athletics (14-16)
  • 22. Colorado Rockies (13-15)
  • 23. Detroit Tigers (12-14)
  • 24. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (12-17)
  • 25. Chicago White Sox (11-14)
  • 26. Cincinnati Reds (11-16)
  • 27. San Francisco Giants (11-17)
  • 28. Baltimore Oriels (10-19)
  • 29. Kansas City Royals (9-19)
  • 30 .Miami Marlins (8-20)


Ballplayers: Bearded Or Baby-Faced?

By Jack Kennedy

Ever since Jayson Werth dawned his Chewbacca-esque beard, players have been growing them in droves. Players like Jake Arrieta and Jose Bautista come to mind when I think of those with the most powerful facial hair in the game, but does it matter in terms of ability? Does having a beard make you better at hitting a baseball? 

In order for someone to answer that, they would have to look over nearly every MLB team’s active roster and handpick the important stats for comparison, but who has that kind of time? Lucky for you, I do. After spending a strenuous seven hours looking through major league players, I have determined the average stats, both regular and advanced, that each group of hitters produces. (maybe determining pitching stats will come later?) For qualification, I considered the size of the beard… and that’s basically it. If you have to look at it and think “does this count as facial hair?” the answer is no. Let me put it this way…

Khris Davis:

khris davis


Yuli Gurriel:

yuli gurriel



If it looks like it’s just a weird shadow or possibly leftover food, then no. If it looks like a high schooler doing his best, I’ll give it to ‘em.

Now that we have the very rigid qualifications out of the way, let’s get into some speculation. Personally, as a bearded individual myself, I believe that having a beard will marginally improve one’s play. My theory goes beyond personal bias. Those with facial hair have more testosterone, and the thicker the hair the more the testosterone.  Because testosterone is associated with muscle growth and even competitive nature, it would not be far fetched to assume that facial hair as a result of more testosterone would lead to a more driven and athletic ball player. While obviously, nearly all ballplayers can grow a beard, the ones who truly embrace it are the subjects of my test. Below I have compiled the results of my findings. 

Bearded Players


Clean Shaven Players

For the most part, it’s about even between the two, but the clean-shaven players have a slight advantage in games played, home runs, RBIs, runs, and a decently substantial advantage in WAR coming in .3 above their bearded peers. The averages table breaks down below:

Bearded 95.51 0.2442 0.3124 0.409 11.878 44.989 42.474 0.3271 1.3323
Clean Shaven 101.65 0.2425 0.3163 0.402 13.080 52.878 45.424 0.3198 1.6070

However, this does not tell a complete story due to a 6 game difference in games played. Because of this, it is important to factor in the stats for a full season over 162 games:

Bearded 162 20.1472 76.3058 72.0399 2.252
Clean Shaven 162 20.8455 84.2676 72.3881 2.561

While there is still an advantage in RBI’s, the other season-long stats seem to normalize themselves a lot closer to each other, and the two types of hitters seem to be a lot closer in value until you get to WAR. In terms of WAR, there is still a large lead for the clean-shaven players. While conventional numbers show they are roughly the same an entire .3 lead in WAR is enough for me to say that players who are clean-shaven are in fact better ball players. 

So yes, contrary to my original opinion and hope, having a beard most certainly hinders one’s ability to play baseball, and K Zone Creator Mike Duffy says, “That’s why the Yankees always win,” although maybe the reason the clean-shaven players had an advantage is that the Yankees players are shaven and due to the level of talent they have they skew the data. Perhaps maybe bearded players are more precise in the way they carry out their daily lives, and baseball is a precision sport, but this is difficult to speculate on. It may be impossible to determine the reason for the advantage, but either way I know I will be shaving before my season starts.


Joey Gallo: An Interesting Case

By: Jack Kennedy

Ever since the analytical era of baseball began, the way we view baseball stats has significantly evolved. Emphasis has been continually taken away from standard stats such as batting average and has been redistributed to the increasingly important on-base percentage. This shift has occurred for obvious reasons: it doesn’t matter if someone gets on base via lining one into right, taking 4 pitches outside the zone, or just taking one hard in the ribs. The end result is the same: runner on first. Hits only become valuable when they involve the baseball going over the wall.

Thus, we enter the current era of true outcome hitters. These hitters ignore the fielders playing. They don’t care because they don’t plan on giving them a chance to get the ball, anyway. A true outcome hitter is someone who specializes in one of three “true outcomes:” walks, strikeouts, and home runs. These sort of players are becoming more and more valuable in the eyes of managers as they shift towards acquiring players that ignore the defense and go toe to toe with the pitcher and the pitcher alone. There is no player in baseball who emulates this thought process than Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo.


Joey Gallo has a decent on-base percentage of roughly .316, right around league average. Unfortunately for Gallo, his batting average is, to put it kindly, below league average. As of right now, he is putting the ball in play 21% of the time he goes up to bat, making his batting average of .210. Gallo has walked 70 times this year so far and is on pace to beat his career high of 75, which he set in last year’s season. Gallo has already beaten his career best in hits at 99 compared to the 94 he put up last year. This means that of all the times Gallo gets on base, 41.4% of them are walks. On top of this, the ones he does happen to hit in play are usually home runs, and I’m not exaggerating. As of now, Gallo has clubbed 37 dingers, meaning that just over 37% of all his base hits are home runs. In addition, he has 24 doubles and 1 triple. Adding those numbers up, we find that he has 62 base hits that are not singles. Subtracting that from his total of 99, we see that the amount of singles he hits is… 37. This means he has the same amount of home runs as he does singles this year. So we’ve established that Gallo is very good at walking and hitting home runs, now let’s look at his strikeout numbers. Gallo is third in the MLB at 195 strikeouts, only 6 behind the leader, Yoan Moncada at 201. But this number is a little skewed as Yoan has had 596 plate appearances as opposed to Gallo’s 542. Moncada has had 54 more plate appearances, and therefore more strikeout opportunities than Gallo. If Gallo had the same amount of plate appearances as Moncada he would total a whopping 215 strikeouts. He is a true outcomes player who hits dingers, walks, and if he doesn’t do either of those things, he strikes out, so you don’t need to worry about the double play Gallo has only grounded into a double play 3 times in the last 2 seasons.

Joey Gallo is not a typical new age hitter, however. As I said, he does walk a lot, but still doesn’t have the huge on-base percentage that most managers look for. He’s an even newer age of thinking, not about getting on base, but about only hitting home runs. Joey Gallo actually isn’t supposed to get on base at all. After a game with the Astros earlier this year in which Bregman was playing all the way in left field and no one occupied the wrong side of the infield as Gallo came to bat, we were all thinking the same thing: “Just bunt it!” But he didn’t, and there’s a reason for this. A bunt moves Gallo one base, a home run, however, moves Gallo four. The Rangers are not exactly Murderers Row this year,  as they have a lot of guys that struggle at the plate, and if Gallo was to get on first every time he batted he might not be able to reach home because of the lack of support behind him. Gallo, instead of waiting to be knocked in, decided to knock himself in. This strategy seems to make a lot of sense, but how effective is it? We could tell how good of a player Joey Gallo is if only there was a way to isolate Gallo from the rest of his team so we can see how successful he is as in individual… Oh wait, we can.

Using the hitting statistics I outlined earlier, I was able to simulate every single at-bat for Joey Gallo as if every player on the team was Big Number 13. Every plate appearance was a set of random probability generators that would first determine if he would get on base in that plate appearance. If it was determined that Gallo got on base, I would then randomly generate the outcome of Gallo getting a base hit or taking the free pass to first. Finally, if the probability generator decided that Gallo was getting a knock, I would use the generator to determine what kind of hit he got. I didn’t need to worry about double plays because as I said, Gallo doesn’t hit into double plays. To determine the opponents score for every game was easy: I simply took the score that the Rangers’ actual opponent put up, and continued to do this for the first 35 games of the season.



Gallo started off incredibly strong. He scored 10 runs in his first game with 2 grand slams. Cole Hamels got the win easily for the Texas Gallos as they defeated the Astros 10-4. The next game was completed in a similar fashion, as Gallo has another grand slam and they clubbed in 12 runs, again defeating the Astros in a 12-1 slugfest. The following game was an interesting one as well, as the Gallos put up a very respectable 7 runs, but the returning World Series champions were able to notch 9 themselves. This went back and forth as I simulated every single game, and in the end, the Texas Gallos finished with a record of 17-18, just under .500. If you extrapolate this, the Texas Gallos would finish with a 79-83, having about 8 more wins than the Rangers are on pace to have this year. This means that as bad as Gallo’s .210 batting average seems, he is actually an exceedingly effective batter. And remember, this record is simulated with the Rangers’ rotation, that throughout their first 30 games had a whopping ERA of 5.7. If Gallo substituted every spot in the lineup on a team with a better rotation, it can be speculated that he would have an even better season and could possibly finish well over .500.

While when I was simulating the games there were many instances that Gallo would get out or walk with the bases loaded, which didn’t produce many runs, he hit more than enough home runs to make up for it. This high octane offense was done purely with someone who could hit with power. His batting average was awful, and his OBP was nothing impressive either, however, Gallo turned into a very productive hitter because while he wasn’t always getting on base, he was constantly putting up a lot of total bases for his team.
Could this mean that baseball will go through another statistical reform where managers look for players who can take more than first? Was Joey Gallo just a fluke? Who knows, but time will tell if Joey Gallo’s strategy of just swinging for the fences every pitch will become a trend. After all, you can only shift players so far and unfortunately can’t put them in bleachers which is where Gallo is aiming. For now, we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

America’s Pastime



An Investigation into the correlation between the changes in culture  and the way baseball is has changed as a result


By Jack Kennedy




Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…” a quote by Jacquez Barzun that may be truer than initially perceived. Throughout American history different events such as the Great Depression and the Cold War have influenced our state of mind to dictate nearly every aspect of our lives, so if one were curious as to the state of America as a whole they merely need to look at the state of baseball because I believe it will accurately reflect how Americans are currently reflecting their society. I have loved following baseball my entire life as well as the culture of America. I have always believed that a tie between the two existed, and I dedicated extensive research to prove that it does. Baseball has changed dramatically from the day of its induction to today and those changes are directly related to the changes our culture has experienced. To demonstrate the difference between American culture and the way baseball is played the is the aim of my investigation.


Research Question:

To What Extent Does the Changing Culture of America Reflect Itself In the Way Baseball is Played?

This investigation will examine baseball stats and trends throughout different decades and attempt to show a correlation and causation between these stats and the external socioeconomic factors.


Anthropological Theories Utilized:


This investigation heavily relies on Functional Theory (Bronislaw Malinowski) which was later expanded upon by Marvin Harris in his Theory of Cultural Mechanisms.


Functional Theory:

“Every belief, action, or relationship in a culture functions to meet the need of every individual.” (Malinowski Collected Works: Volume IX)


The Theory Of Cultural Mechanisms:


“Materials or conditions within the environment (climate, food, supply, and geography) influence how a culture develops, creating the ideas and ideology of a culture.” (The Rise of Anthropological Theory: A History of Theories of Culture)




These two theories will combine to allow me to draw conclusions based off the idea that all people reflect their internal state of being through external actions. I will then apply this idea to different decades throughout American history and find substantial evidence to make claims about how the external climate directly impacted the practical play of baseball.


Background and History:


Throughout both the history of America and the history of baseball there have been many changes in the mindset of how to go about many things. America has changed its mind on certain things such as marriage and voting rights. Similarly, baseball has changed its mind on certain things such as how to most effectively pitch to a batter and put runs on the board. In this, one must examine American ethnology and archaeology and how the cultural and historical changes influenced American thinking. Building off of Functional Theory, established by Bronislaw Malinowski and argues “every belief, action, or relationship in a culture functions to meet the need of every individual,” I will determine to what extent the beliefs and cultures in America mirror themselves in a common act of everyday routine for many Americans. This theory was further expanded upon by Marvin Harris in 1960 when he claimed the “Theory of Cultural Mechanism” which states “Materials or conditions within the environment (climate, food, supply, and geography) influence how a culture develops, creating the ideas and ideology of a culture.” Harris’s Theory of Cultural Mechanism provides an example of how the mindset of many Americans would alter during times of hardship or prosperity.


1900’s Through 1920’s


At the turn of the 20th century, America was dealing with an extensive social movement of progressivism. This movement caused by many social reforms, these social reforms however brought about a new mindset for Americans. This mindset was one of progress, how to not just do things but to do them right. Enter Cy Young. Cy Young began his legendary career in 1890, in which he quickly began the most dominant pitcher of that era. This could arguably reflect the mindset of efficiency that America had acquired. Pitchers in this era began to pitch to strike out, meaning they no longer just tried to get the ball in play so the fielders could do the work, rather they tried to eliminate the batter from even having a chance of getting on base. This change was evident in that the ERA of pitchers dropped dramatically from previous years and began what is known as “the dead ball era” named specifically for the lack of runs and big hits generated.


Now jump forward to 1914, and we see the first year that the legend Babe Ruth entered the ballgame for the first time. Babe Ruth that year managed to hit 0 home runs, the following year he hit 4, then 3, then 2. These seem like insignificant numbers for someone who was known as “The Sultan of Swat.” Babe Ruth did not have his first impressive season until 1920 in which he hit a league-dominating 52 home runs. Coincidentally this was the year directly after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Why does this matter? The ball. In 1920 baseballs were made

differently, made using Australian methods to be precise, after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles Americans felt safer about foreign countries and were more eager to adopt

characteristics from them. This era was consequently called “the live ball era” and coincided with what is known as “the roaring 20s.” This time period in American history was characterized by opulence and grandeur as emulated in the novel “The Great Gatsby.” Similarly, opulence was in baseball too. Batters were hitting the ball more, and harder. The era of pitchers had gone, efficiency was no longer the focus. Big games, big hits, and big scores now characterized the sport.



1930’s Through 1960’s (Excluding the 1950’s)


The 1930s begin what is known in American history as “The Great Depression” in which many Americans suffered poverty after the spending and international economic reliance caused for poverty to strike America. “The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world” and saw a drastic decrease in home runs and scoring for that matter. However, unlike the dead ball era, this was not caused by pitching dominance, while ERA’s and strikeouts did improve slightly during this era they did not come near the level of the 1900’s. One could conclude this was a result of a lack of enthusiasm for the game, rather a lack of enthusiasm for life in general. The Great Depression brought about a state of mind that caused many Americans to bury their head in the sand and just try to get through their own lives. This was seen in the attendance of ball games as it plummeted in the 1930’s. As the everyday American was no longer enjoying baseball it would be easy to assume that many ballplayers, when faced with similar struggles, began to lose their joy too. No longer did batters step up to the

plate to make the most of every appearance for the glory of the game, rather they were putting in their hours as they needed the income like everyone else at the time. In fact, ballplayers were more focused on being employed at the time. This trend is a perfect example of the Theory of Cultural Mechanisms as when faced with poverty many Americans turned to a state of depression. They began focusing on their everyday lives and now had a mentality focused on surviving rather than thriving.



The 1940’s saw America robbed of many of its great players such as Ted Williams who, if not for serving in the war, might be regarded as the greatest pure hitter of all time. This continued the downward trend of attendance until 1946 season, after the end of WWII. Attendance then boomed. Nationalism was running rampant throughout America and this caused everyone to rediscover their love for America’s pastime. This began a feel-good era in America, as they were finally coming out of the war. Americans began to love their fellow-man again and the historic season of 1947 began. A man like no other stepped on the diamond. A hero by the name of Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson, of course, was the first African-American to play baseball since the 1880s. America was finally moving away from its roots of traditional racism and progressing to focus on itself as a country. Nothing demonstrates this new focus on social reform and improvement after the war effort like the drafting of African-Americans into the heart of America.



During the 1960’s America was faced with a very intense confrontation with the Cuban Missile Crisis and the later assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Along with these America was still facing the Vietnam War and the Cold War with Russia. These internal and foreign conflicts caused Americans to rally around their patriotism. Not coincidentally there was a massive expansion in baseball during this time. Throughout the decade the respective National League and American League expanded their roster to each include at first 10 teams from 8 then each had 12 by the end of the decade (American baseball has been a competition between the National and American leagues since 1903). Americans wanted to be more unified, this would correlate with the statistical trend that the approval rate of governments skyrocketed during times of crisis, American, like all people, contain a strong sense of nationalism and do not like their ideologies to be challenged. If they are challenged Americans will rally together to promote unity and their ideologies among each other, which is exactly why there was such a large expansion of America’s past time.



1970’s Through 1990’s


The 1970’s saw what might be the largest change to the game in baseball history: players got paid. The MLB saw a hyperinflation of wages during this time in which players began making up to four hundred percent of what they were making in previous years. The reason for this was the expansion of what is known as “free agency.” Free agency is the process in which a player’s current contract expires and another team (or the same team) is able to sign that player to another contract. This process was limited by the Adamantine Reserve Clause that was overturned in 1975. However, players were not the only ones to acquire new representation and respect. The 1970’s saw the advancement of many civil rights movements. Women were being treated with more equality and phrases such as Policeman were being removed from the vernacular and phrases such as Police officer were annexed as their replacements. Minorities and those in the LGBT community were beginning to see less discrimination during this time as well. The 1970’s became a decade of giving power to the people, and this trend was not lost among baseball players. No longer did club owners dictate the financial fate of players, rather they fought over each other to see who could acquire great athletes, and the athlete would go to the highest bidder. Ballplayers were no longer limited to restraints of the past, they followed and embraced the American trend of pride in one’s innate individuality and received wonderous benefits from it.


During the 1980’s many of the past’s baseball fans in the baby boomer generation were getting older. It was time for society to cater to a newer, younger, louder generation. Music became intense with bands like the now Brian Johnson led AC/DC and the sex-centered European rock band, Def Leppard; the movies became cruder as well such as CaddyShack (1980), Stripes (1981), and baseball related did not miss out on this with the wildly popular flick Bull Durham (1988). This louder and more intense society was more than just prevalent in movies about baseball but in baseball itself. Thus began a sharp retraction of the popularity of signing free agents. Teams began focusing on signing younger players that appealed to the newer generation. The contact hitter was less important and people craved the long ball. There was a subtraction of small base hits and home runs and big swings began reaching all-time highs (according to Players acted more like rock stars, taking illegal drugs and misbehaving off of the field and losing the dignity older fans of the sport were proud of. The game began reflecting the mentality of the youth.


The 1990’s delved further into this idea of appealing to the youth. The 1990’s were the most hectic and chaotic in history with players such as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa who began mashing home runs into the sun. Records were being set that was a direct result of the 1991-2004 period known as the “Steroid Era.” This electrifying era for baseball was a direct result of the youth growing as well. Popularity in more extreme forms of entertainment such as the X Games was growing and baseball too had to become more intense, and nothing is more intense than crushing every major hitting record besides highest batting average in a season (hard to have a high batting average when you swing for the fences every time). Unfortunately, this also led to many controversial players and questioning the legitimacy of them and if their records should be in the hall of fame. Players that likely would have been in Cooperstown (the baseball hall of fame) without steroids such as Barry Bonds will now likely never get the votes the might have deserved.


Analysis And Modern Day Correlation


To what extent does the changing culture of America reflect itself in the way baseball is played?


The changing culture of America reflected itself adamantly in player actions, statistical trends, and public relations.


Any external or internal changes to the American people are prominently displayed in all aspects of their lives. It influences the way they walk, the way they think, and the way they talk; naturally, it also influences their favorite past time. From the rise of anthropology as a major scientific doctrine in the 1850’s (History of Anthropology: Second Edition) anthropologists have worked tirelessly to determine the correlation between thoughts and actions of a society influenced by what is around them. This correlation has been determined to be very strong and applies to nearly all aspects of a society’s life, which of course includes baseball.


Since the wide acceptance of Bronislaw’s functional theory, those studying cultures have been able to make ties between external influences and their effect on a culture’s actions. External influences have been determined to hold a sort of monopoly on one’s consciousness and seem to dictate nearly all the thoughts and actions of people. This theory, however, builds off of John Locke’s theory of “Tabula Rosa” (which translates to blank slate). Tabula Rosa is the idea that all humans are born with an empty mind and it is molded by our experiences, that all people are in fact equal at birth and are wholly developed by their experiences. Experiences drastically affect our thinking and how we act, an idea that has been around longer than anthropology has been accepted a scientific doctrine. The idea that different factors such as the Great Depression and Cold War affect every aspect of our lives (taking into account the previously stated theories) no longer seems like an uncertainty worthy of investigation, rather a fair and true statement that has had its groundwork laid before it for some time.


Finally, I would like to discuss the current state of America and the current state of baseball and how they relate to one another. In a study by the American Psychological Association, the average child today has the same levels of anxiety and depression as the average child in a mental therapy hospital during the 1950’s. The claim is not hard to understand, focuses have shifted since then. Today there is a focus on monetary success over personal success. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman writes that there is no definite correlation between monetary success and personal happiness yet the United States Department of Labor shows that the average American (including those who don’t work) work roughly 50 hours a week, which is a 400% increase since 1950. A focus has gone to productivity rather than enjoyability. Now let’s look at baseball and what is infamous among fans of the game, the shift (and other technological changes).

A common way to prevent a batter from getting a base hit today is to look at the data of where all of the particular batters different hits have gone and positioning the fielders accordingly, this caused there to be less and fewer hits to occur. This has been named “The Shift.” The offensive result of this was simple, if the batters could not hit the ball on the field they would simply attempt to hit the ball out of it and the amount of home runs dramatically increased (last year shattered the MLB record for home runs by the league in a single season). As a result of these big swings, there were far more strikeouts than before as well, players such as Joey Gallo would lead their team in both home runs and strikeouts and would only be batting roughly .200 (about 50 points below league average) and be viewed as productive. They were productive players because their hits didn’t matter as long as they went over the fence. This entire analytical philosophy has created what many would call a very boring game. Hardly would runners have to beat out throws from the outfield, instead they just jogged across the plate as a result of the long ball. Now only 3 things seem to happen, the batter strikes out, the batter walks, or the batter hits a home run. It is not fun to see a scorching line drive up the middle caught by someone standing 15 feet out of position because the numbers told them to stand there, hits are what make the game fun and they are being taken away. Just like our world, the baseball world has sacrificed enjoyability for productivity.




Throughout my research and analysis, I have deduced that the changing culture of Americans has a great influence on the way baseball is played. Our adaptation of external influences throughout our culture is shocking as we subconsciously cater our entire lives to whatever event we may be experiencing. Our lives are built off of what we experience and what we go through. This reaches a higher level than just baseball but our entire society, and our lives as individuals.  

Today we are burdening ourselves, impeding ourselves, from being content with our lives. There is pressure for efficiency and excellence, so much so we sacrifice our enjoyment for it. I can personally say that I feel socially pressured to sacrifice my own desire for even briefly developing a devil-may-care attitude for working tirelessly towards the future that feels like it never comes. Similarly, baseball is now being managed on pure analytics so that teams can be as successful as possible. This game of “analytic ball” has resulted in a sharp decline in ratings because the game simply is not as fun anymore. The game is reflecting America’s society, a society that focuses on efficiency and achievements but just is not fun anymore. Maybe we should take a closer look at baseball and the problems it is facing, then with that knowledge in hand all take a look at our own lives and see if we feel the same way.


Of course, baseball is far and away my favorite sport, this paper was written by gathering the opinions and beliefs of many others and utilizing the theories of anthropological experts in their fields.


Work Cited


Attanasio, Ed. “Yearly Reader.” This Great Game, edited by Eric Gouldsberry. Accessed 8 April 2018.


Barzun, Jacques. God’s Country and Mine: A Declaration of Love Spiced with a Few Harsh Words. Praeger, 1973. Accessed 8 April 2018.


Harris, Marvin. The Rise of Anthropological Theory. Altamira Press. 2001. Accessed 8 April 2018.


Kahneman, Daniel. “The Sad Tale of Aspiration Treadmill.” Edge World Question Center. Accessed 14 June 2018


Locke, John. “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” Early Modern Texts. 1689. 14 April 2018.

Malinowski, Bronisław. “The Functional Theory. Malinowski Collected Works. Vol. IX,    Routledge, 1944. Accessed 8 April 2018.


Simmons, Bill. “The Steroid Era” Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, 5 Dec. 2015. Accessed on 15 April 2018.


Twenge, Jean M. “The Age of Anxiety? Birth Cohort Change in Anxiety and Neuroticism, 1952-1993.” American Psychological Association. /2000/12/anxiety.aspx. Accessed 14 June 2018.


U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Average hours employed people spent working on days worked by day of the week.” Graphics for Economic.News Release. guides/userguides/style_apa_un100careerresources.htm. Accessed 14 June 2018.