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Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 MLB batting average lowest since 1989, 54 rainouts in 2011, only 21 in 2010

"“For a long time, parents didn’t want their kids to be pitchers. They were afraid they’d get hurt.""... "Offense dropped to a level not seen since Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling were dominating on the mound.

Nearly two decades later, Justin Verlander(notes), Roy Halladay(notes) and Clayton Kershaw(notes) have helped bring in a new era of prime power arms that’s caused scoring and home runs to drop to levels not seen in 19 years....

Teams averaged 4.28 runs per game this season, the lowest since 1992’s 4.12 and down from a Steroids Era peak of 5.14 in 2000. And the home run average was down to 0.94 each team per game, also the lowest in 19 years and a sharp drop from 1.17 in 2000....

It wasn’t just home run hitters who had a tough time, according to STATS LLC. The major league

  • batting average of .255 was the lowest since 1989.

On the flip side, the 3.94 ERA was a level last seen in 1992.

Maybe all those extra pitchers from the expansions of 1993 and 1998 finally have been absorbed.

Pitching is getting better. Teams are drafting pitching more. They started doing that a while ago and now you’re seeing what all those guys can do,” Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “For a long time, parents didn’t want their kids to be pitchers. They were afraid they’d get hurt. Now they see

  • some of the top draft pick money they’re getting and thinking it might be OK to pitch.”

Detroit’s Justin Verlander became the first 24-game winner since Arizona’s Randy Johnson(notes) in 2002. Tampa Bay’s James Shields(notes) had 11 complete games, the first in double digits since Johnson’s 12 in 1999. Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee(notes) became the first pitcher with six shutouts since Tim Belcher’s eight for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1989.

And, oh, those strikeouts—a record average of 7.09 per team per game after breaking the 7 barrier for the first time a year earlier. Walks were down to 3.09, the fewest since 1968—when there were just 20 teams and pennant winners went straight to the World Series without playoffs.

“It’s not easier to be a pitcher, but it’s way more difficult to hit,San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain(notes) said. “The way I think about it, when I’m pitching, I feel like I have a little more of an upper hand because they’re going to fail more than I’m going to fail, the way the numbers work out.”

Back in 1981, teams averaged 4.75 strikeouts. It’s not quite the dead ball era, but the balance has shifted more toward flame-throwers after a long period when bats ruled.

“The pendulum is switching,” New York Mets manager Terry Collins said. “Pitchers are throwing harder. Guys are throwing 94-98 (mph). Bullpen. Rotation. Years ago, 92 was a hard fastball. Now it’s an average fastball. Guys might even say it’s a tick below.”

Also throw in one factor that couldn’t be predicted: rainouts. There were 54 postponements,

  • more than double the 21 in 2010."...

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