Our friend Gregi Gross in Germany has some more interesting info about German baseball. Our ongoing convesration has become even more topical as baseball announced yesterday that there is a good possibility that major-league games will be played in Europe in July 2004.
The previous discussions are here and here. Below is what we have been discussing of late:
Gregi:What you say about baseball and its international relations is right. It would be interesting to see what kind of players you would get from international scouting, and that baseball is busy destroying its fan base in the US rather than spreading it all over the world is
ridiculous. [Mike (Aside): A) Amen and B) this becomes more of an issue after baseball's announcement to play in Europe.]
Mike: I have one question about your answers: why are games seven innings? One would expect that there was some rationale for changing it from nine at some point. Do you happen to know?
Gregi: No. I did send out an e-mail-query to the german baseball leagues to find out. I do think, though, the seven innings were only played in the lower levels, in the big league you'd go the usual nine...
Mike: Also, do you know how old the amateur system is and how it developed?
Gregi: Well, that will also be in the e-mails I sent out. I do think, though, the GI´s had something to do with it. After all, the only baseball diamonds in Berlin that I do know of are where GI´s worked. One is at the airfield Tempelhof (which also has the fourth largest building on the planet ). Its a beautiful thing, it's just that its on the airfield ground so no one can go there without permission.
Gregi: (Later email)) From checking out the websites of the german baseball bundesliga, I found out that they premier league plays 9-inning-ball, they seldom hit homeruns (the whole league hit 96 homeruns in 7292 plate appearances), but they walk ( 908 BB in 7292 PA ). Figures are from the 1. Bundesliga South ( League BA .288, SLG . 403, OBP .404 ). So some things I said changed obviously. Figures for 1. Bundesliga North ( League BA .275, SLG .372, OBP .383 )
Quite a high batting average and on base percentage, I dare say.
As for the history, the first german champ was played out in 1951, which indicates that the GIs had something to do with it. Interestingly, though, no german champ was determined between 1971-1980...
That is a high on-base percentage, higher than the league slugging. That has never happened in MLB. The closest was a difference of .005 points between the slugging and on-base in 1907 and 1909. The home runs are about the 2002 MLB rate, but historically it is no lower than MLB had been for much of the offensive-minded 1930's. Actually, the Thirties seems the best fit all around:
HR% BB% BA OBP SLUG OPS
DE North 1.32% 12.45% .288 .404 .403 .807
DE South .275 .383 .372 .755
1932 1.41% 7.82% .277 .337 .400 .737
2002 2.71% 8.71% .261 .331 .417 .748
It would be interesting to see the historical trends for these stats in Germany. The German walk rate is much higher than any year in MLB history (1949's 10.42% was the highest).
I would venture that the average game in Germany is different from what we've seen in the majors. Perhaps it has something to do with the issues I mentioned last night when discussing the Mets-Dodgers series in Mexico City. It would be interesting to compare the ratios to those at the various minor-league levels in 2002 (which I do not have handy right now) to see if they more closely match the German game.