Major League Baseball has played a month’s worth of games thus far in 2021. Long enough to note that a trend is developing. Hitting is becoming a lost art.
Major league batters are hitting just .232 overall through April, down from .252 two years ago and under the record low of .237 set over the now infamous 1968 season that resulted in a lower pitcher’s mound. It was correctly thought at the time that a higher mound aided the pitchers.
The rule change did lead to a dramatic increase in offense. Not anymore.
Hits are averaging a record-low 7.63 per game per team after fluctuating from eight to 10 from 1937 through last year.
It has been said that part of the blame for decreasing offensive numbers can be placed at the feet of MLB itself.
Baseballs were slightly deadened this year, a change MLB said an independent lab had found would cause balls to fly 1 to 2 feet shorter when hit over 375 feet.
Personally, I do not see that as much a factor at all. How many home runs do you see that barely clear the fence by 1 to 2 feet? Not many.
I attribute the fact to the current mindset in baseball that home runs win games. This has led to an increase in strikeouts by batters that are swinging for the fences. Shortening swings to keep the ball in play is a lost art. Singles, doubles, and triples that lend itself to rallies are accidents.
Ironically, swinging for the fences is not working. 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.
As a result, the game is starting to become unwatchable. Strikeouts are trending upwards as below average pitchers are averaging over a strikeout an inning.
Strikeouts have averaged 9.06 per team per game, on pace to set a record for the 13th consecutive full season. Strikeouts already are 1,092 ahead of hits, just three years after exceeding hits for the first time over a full season.
Panthers Find Defense At NFL Draft
The Carolina Panthers had an eye on defense in last week’s draft. Carolina made news in the first round by selecting the first defensive player in the draft in Jaycee Horn. The cornerback is the son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn. As I noted last week, he is a truly elite press-man coverage cornerback. Horn is also a physical presence who gets under the skin of receivers across from him. Just ask SEC receivers who met up with him at South Carolina.
Carolina stayed in the SEC for it’s round two pick. Terrace Marshall, a wide receiver out of LSU, slid to the Panthers because of medical concerns. He is considered a first round talent and was one of the few “big receivers” in this draft.
Carolina added depth to its offensive line with its third pick, Brady Christenson, out of BYU. The fourth pick was Tommy Tremble a tight end/fullback out of Notre Dame.