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MLB .244 batting average, worst since ’68, up after action


Major league batting average fell

NEW YORK — The major league batting average fell to .244 this season, the lowest since Pitcher’s Year in 1968, though the offense clearly picked up after Nasball’s midseason crackdown on grip-enhancing substances for pitchers.

MLB’s strict enforcement had the desired effect, ending a run of 12 consecutive full seasons in which strikeouts set a record for the year.

From Opening Day to June 2, the last day before the crackdown, batsmen made .236 hits, with a .395 slugging percentage, .707 OPS and an average of 4.36 runs per team in each game. From June 3 to the end of the regular season, the average increased to .248, with a .419 slugging percentage, .738 OPS and an average of 4.62 runs.

There were a record 2,664 more strikes than hits, up from 1,147 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season to 784 in 2019, when strikeouts topped hits for the first time.

While there were 42,145 strikeouts, a slight decrease from 42,823 in 2019, hits declined from 42,039 to 39,481 as the computer-aided defensive shift spread. The big league batting average was .271 at the height of the steroid era in 1999, when there were 45,327 hits.

The major league batting average fell to a record-low .237 in 1968, allowing MLB to reduce the pitcher’s mound from 15 inches to 10 the following season and shrink the strike zone.

The commissioner’s office said Monday that the fastball spin rate dropped to 2,251 from an average of 2,319 revolutions per minute before June 3, and the velocity remained virtually unchanged, increasing from 93.6 to 93.7 mph. The curveball spin rate decreased from an average of 2,552 to 2,484 and the average of the sliders from 2,462 to 2,393.

The percentage of plate attendance that ended in strikeouts fell from 24.2% before the crackdown to 22.7%, while walks fell from 8.9% to 8.2%. Home runs increased from 3.1% to 3.4% and pitches hit a steady 1.16%. All those figures exclude intentional running.

This year’s batting average of .243799 was just down from .243807 in 1972, down from .245 in the 2020 pandemic-reduced season and .252 in 2019. The average from 2001–09 before the rise of defensive innings was at .260. .

There were 5,944 home runs, down from the record 6,776 in 2019, breaking the 6,105 mark set in 2017.

Baseball officials are concerned about decreased action due to the dominance of the so-called Three True Outcomes: home runs, walks and strikes.

MLB experimented with an increased distance of 12 inches between the mound and home plate during a portion of the Atlantic League season, but found that the increased distance was largely unnoticeable from 60 feet, 6 inches, which is the NL. Has been the standard since it went back. 5 feet high mound in 1883.

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