Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reasons MLB Run Scoring is So Low

People have differing reactions to the statement above.

First, some context...

Average Runs Scored per Game
1919: 3.88 R/G
1920: 4.36 R/G
Babe Ruth, in 1930, hit 49 home runs
with a .493 OBP (Getty Images)
1930: 5.55 R/G
1940: 4.68 R/G
1950: 4.85 R/G
1961: 4.53 R/G
1969: 4.07 R/G
1984: 4.26 R/G
1992: 4.12 R/G
1993: 4.60 R/G
1998: 4.79 R/G
2003: 4.73 R/G
2008: 4.65 R/G
2012: 4.32 R/G
2013: 4.17 R/G

What was your first reachtion to hearing that runs scored per game are lower than they've been in 20 years? I'm sure it wasn't that they raised the mound.

Some might jump to the conclusion that there are fewer steroids in baseball. That's probably a factor, but not more than half of the issue. My mind jumped to the idea that the strike zone has expanded noticeably the past four or five years.

I asked Toirtap what he thought about it:

I agree with Toirtap. Forcing your mind to boil things down to one factor is frustrating and closed-minded. Toirtap's initial claim that "ever-rising K rate is big" is true, but it's important to note that a larger strike zone helps K rates rise.

This post is designed to spark a discussion, rather than a lecture.

Below is a quick attempt to rank a few factors:
  1. Larger strike zone (fuels rising K-rate)
  2. Improved bullpens (fuels rising K-rate)
  3. Improved defensive strategy
  4. Less "juiced" baseballs
  5. Fewer bulked-up power hitters (steroids)
  6. Deterioration of plate discipline (fuels rising K-rate)
  7. Worse weather
  8. Yuniesky Betancourt's 409 plate appearances
  9. Alcides Escobar's 642 plate appearances
  10. Clayton Kershaw

Photo: Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports

If I cared more about page views than the reader experience, I totally would have made this a slide show. Thanks for stopping by!

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