Originally Posted by voodoochile
I think the pitchers are babies/weaker argument is a bit overblown.
First, there are a ton more pitchers in use in MLB than there were "back in the day". Really the number of guys whose arms can stand up to that kind of abuse probably isn't able to keep up with the demand for said arms.
Second, I'd guess (not having checked the stats) that the average pitcher has a longer career today than he did 40 years ago.
Third, I think some of this issue is perception. I mean we remember all these long lived great pitchers from days of yore because they were great long lived pitchers. You aren't going to remember the hundreds/thousands of guys who were 1-5 season MLB pitchers who blew out an elbow or ended up simply sucking their way out of the league. Thus our perception of how macho/strong/powerful the pitchers back then were because we only know/remember the guys who lasted a long time and pitched well. For every Walter Johnson there are 500 nameless wannabes none of us can name.
I won't comment on Sale because I cannot speak with any authority on the issue. However I will ask this question: Some people have compared him to Randy Johnson's throwing motion. I don't know whether Johnson had a classic inverted W or not, but how true is this analogy and how much of a difference does it make?
People also seem to forget that the overall level of hitting was worse back in the day too. Until the 90s, how many 2nd basemen and shortstops could take one out of the park at any time? While there were still prodigious sluggers, overall most teams had a host of all defense, no offense slap hitters up the middle.
Back in 1960 there were 2128 home runs hit
1970 - 3429 home runs
1980 - 3087
1990 - 3317
2000 - 5693
2010 - 4613
Pitchers today have to throw at maximum effort on every pitch as any batter can do real damage for a host of reasons. In the olden days pitchers could take multiple batters "off" and save up energy knowing that at worst they would give up a slap single.