Now that the Cardinals have been defeated, my enthusiasm for the playoffs has waned somewhat. But, I don’t mean to be dismissive, this year’s playoffs have been some of the most entertaining in years.
It’s distressing to me that I heard a lunkhead on sports radio deride baseball for it’s lack of offense. This is something I’ve heard a few times actually. First, he was trying to figure out why there’s less scoring and I’ll address all those reasons.
What everybody says: bullpens now are too good
“It’s really difficult to hit when every pitcher out of the pen throws 95 miles per hour,” quote from the aforementioned lunkhead. This is totally true. Bullpen specialization is a trend that continues to increase but it’s not new. I would say bullpens have been used like they are today dating back to 2000. Pitchers threw hard back then too.
Really, when are the most runs scored in baseball games? I would say it’s almost always innings one through six before the pen gets involved.
There are a lot of really good pitchers right now
When Justin Verlander is the fourth best starter on his team that tells you how loaded the starting pitching market is right now. Every team has a bonafide ace.
There are more pitchers parks than hitters parks
The split is probably about even but the trend since 2000 has been one of creating more pitcher friendly parks — Miami’s new stadium, Comerica, Safeco, whatever the Angels park is called, Citi Field, Petco and Nationals Park. Now, Target Field seems to be a band box and some notable hitters parks do not feature very good teams right now — Wrigley, Fenway, Ballpark in Arlington, Enron and Citizens Bank in Philly.
I think baseball has done a good job of cleaning up the game of steroids. The testing is tough and the penalties are harsh. The downside of cleaning up the game is that there is less offense — bats get slowed down, there are fewer hits and way fewer home runs. You really want to increase offense, get rid of steroid testing. Oh, you don’t want to do that because of the sanctity of numbers. OK.
All the people that bemoan that lack of offense in baseball need to shut the hell up. Think about it, what’s more exciting a 2-1 game or a 10-5 game? Give me the former every time. See the same people who will complain about a lack of offense will also cry foul when the games are too long. You know what games take a long time, the 10-9 contests with 77 walks. Pitcher’s duels are fast.
Really, baseball is in a transitional period and if the Royals win the World Series there might be a jump start in changing baseball thinking. The Money Ball era theories were home runs are great, walks are good, double plays are bad and strikeouts are the cost of doing business. But when there are so few guys who hit for real power, all those strikeouts look way worse. For like the 10th year in a row, there was a new league-wide record for strikeouts.
The Royals don’t walk but they also don’t strikeout. I’m guessing the Giants, with free swingers like Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, also have high batted balls in play totals. The Royals also manufacture runs with base running. Speed might become a more valued commodity. The best way to increase offense is to cut down on strikeouts. The Giants motto should be put the ball in play and good things will happen.