On Sunday, July 17, the Red Sox and Rays displayed the lack of hitting that Major League Baseball has been suffering from for the last few years. For some players, the reason could be the lack of performing enhancing substances; others say that the pitchers as a whole have caught up to the batters. No matter the cause, the extra-inning affair served as a microcosm for the monumental fall of MLB’s high octane offenses.
Most offenses now have to resort to the National League-type of ‘small ball’ strategy. This is becoming mandatory because arguably the most exciting part of the game, the home run (0.89 per game in 2011), is unfortunately at its lowest since 1993. Even with 96 outs to work with, neither the Red Sox nor the Rays could muster a home run during Sunday’s game. Through all 16 innings, the two ball clubs put up just a total of 8 hits. Thus far in 2011, the MLB has an overall batting average of .252 with 8.58 hits per game, both of which are the lowest averages for the league since 1972.
On the other hand, creating runs with speed and moving runners over is becoming more prevalent throughout the MLB. Stolen bases per game (0.68) are the most since 1999. Stolen bases have been on the rise for almost a decade now. In 2003, the MLB had only 0.53 per game. Therefore, more speedsters will find their ways into MLB lineups since young power hitters are becoming scarcer by the day.
If there’s one lesson to take away from Sunday night’s game between Boston and Tampa Bay, this could be it: the two teams combined for 2 stolen bases. That is 2 more than the number of home runs and 1 more than the number of total runs scored.
*All statistics are official as of games before Friday, July 22