The 2010 season has been dubbed “the year of the pitcher.”

References are made to 1968, when pitching was so dominant that the height of the pitching mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 inches for the 1969 season.

Yes, compared to 1968, offense has decreased, but that is not true when one compares 2010 to 2009.

The following table summarizes the National League figures (this eliminates the designated hitter rule) for 1968 compared to 2010.

1968 3.43 89 .243 .300 .341
2010 4.40 151 .257 .326 .403

It isn’t even close. The projected 2010 figures reveal that National League teams today are averaging one run more than they did in 1968.

Teams in 2010 are hitting more home runs and have much better batting averages, on base averages, and slugging averages than teams in 1968.

A comparison of offense in the 2010 National League with offense in the 2009 National League reveals that offense has not decreased significantly.

2009 4.43 155 .259 .331 .409
2010 4.40 151 .257 .326 .403

Where is the difference? The numbers are so close that a statistical analysis in not necessary. The small variations must be attributed to chance.

Now, let us return to that thrilling season of 2000, when National League teams averaged five runs a game, and compare it to this season.

2000 5.00 188 .266 .342 .432
2010 4.40 151 .257 .326 .403

What a difference 10 years makes.

Comparing individual offensive leaders graphically illustrates that there is little difference between the 2009 season and this year.

Carlos Gonzalez leads the 2010 National League with a .326 batting average. Last season, Hanley Ramirez batted .342 to win the batting title.

In 1968, the great Pete Rose led the league with a .335 average, which becomes more remarkable with the passage of time.

There was no designated hitter in the 1968 American League. Carl Yastrzemski led the league with a .301 average, which is the lowest average for any batting champion.

In 2000, Todd Helton led the National League when he hit .372.

One must conclude that, compared to 2009, National League offense is about the same, but compared to 2000, there is quite a difference. The same is true two or three years before and after the 2000 season.

Maybe Major League Baseball’s substance abuse programs are the reason.

Maybe the baseball is less lively.

Maybe the pitchers really have gotten bigger, stronger, and smarter over the last few seasons.

Maybe the strike zone is a little larger than it was ten years ago.

Games today are more exciting, because more rides on every offensive play. When a team fell behind by three or four runs 10 years ago, it was no big deal. Today, it is usually fatal.

On Aug. 10, 2010, Mike Pelfrey of New York’s most beloved team, the New York Mets, shut out the Colorado Rockies (1-0).

Rookie Jeremy Hellickson, Joaquin Benoit, and Mike Ekstrom of the Tampa Bay Rays combined to shut the Detroit Tigers (8-0).

Finally, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez and David Aardsma combined to blank the Oakland A’s (2-0).

A balance is being reached between offense and defense. It makes the games more interesting, each pitch and each play becomes more important, and it allows weak teams to remain competitive longer into the game.


Baseball Reference

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