— Sports

Season of the Slump: Baseball keeps swinging and missing

NEW YORK (AP) – Don Mattingly starred in the action-packed 1980s.

Now the Miami Marlins manager, Donnie Baseball, worries about a record lack of hits — not just from his team’s bats. “I don’t think it’s cyclical at this point,” he said. “There’s so much swing and miss; it’s kind of off the charts. I think it’s something that we have to address.”

It’s the Season of the Slump, even for All-Stars like Marcell Ozuna (.202), Charlie Blackmon (.184), and Francisco Lindor (.189). Miguel Cabrera, the only Triple Crown winner in a half-century, is batting .140. Major league batters are hitting just .232 overall through April, down from .252 two years ago and under the record low of .237 set in the infamous 1968 season, resulting in a lower pitcher’s mound.

The Mendoza line may not mean what it used to.

Strikeouts have averaged 9.06 per team per game, on pace to set a record for the 13th consecutive entire season – up from 8.81 two years ago and nearly double the 4.77 in 1979. Strikeouts already are 1,092 ahead of hits, just three years after exceeding hits for the first time over an entire season. Hits are averaging a record-low 7.63 after fluctuating from 8 to 10 from 1937 through last year, excepting 1968′s dip to a then-alarming 7.91.

While it’s a bear market for batters, pitchers are on bull runs.

Baseball

Carlos Rodón of the Chicago White Sox became the second pair of pitchers in a half-century to throw April no-hitters, the first since Atlanta’s Kent Mercker and Minnesota’s Scott Erickson in 1994. Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner pitched another, but MLB did not recognize the shortened seven-inning gem in a doubleheader.

Mattingly, a six-time All-Star, never struck out more than 43 times during a career from 1982-92.

Texas slugger Joey Gallo has whiffed 40 times, as has Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suárez.

“Pitching has always been further ahead in the analytical world, and applying the information to the competition has been much faster on the run- prevention side than the run-production side,” said Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, a former big-league catcher.

“I am concerned that our sport has turned into a lack of offense, and the strikeout-homer-walk Three True Outcomes is not our best entertainment product. … We’re trending in the wrong direction. It doesn’t mean we can snap our fingers and make a rule change or do one simple thing, and suddenly, we’re going to turn into a more balanced sport.” Detroit finished April with a .199 batting average, on track to shatter the low of .211 set by the 1910 Chicago White Sox.

Just 16.6% of pitches have been put in play this season through midweek, according to MLB Statcast, matching last year and down from 18.6% in 2015. Perhaps it’s the Rawlings baseballs, which were slightly deadened this year in a change MLB said an independent lab found would cause balls to fly 1 to 2 feet shorter when hit over 375 feet. Or maybe the five teams added humidors to their stadiums, raising the total to 10 of 30 with humidity-controlled storage spaces. Home runs have dropped from a record 1.39 per team per game in 2019 to 1.28 in 2020′,s shortened season to 1.14 this year, the lowest since 2015.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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