With the final totals in we can officially see what was pretty darn obvious throughout the season. Offense was down. Way down. Down to a level we had not seen since there were 26 teams in the league, I had a full head of hair and people actually thought that Mike Myers was hilarious. 1992, people. A different time. A different place. The specifics, via Stats, LLC:
- Teams averaged 4.28 runs per game. Lowest since 1992’s 4.12. The peak of the recent big-run era was 5.14 in 2000;
- The home run average was down to 0.94 each team per game, also the lowest in 19 years and a sharp drop from 1.17 in 2000;
- The major league batting average of .255 was the lowest since 1989;
- The 3.94 ERA was also the lowest since 1992.
This stuff always brings out the “see, they’re not on steroids anymore” mob. As I often say, I don’t find this to be a very satisfying explanation. No single-factor explanation of a complicated process every sits well with me, and baseball teams scoring runs is a complicated process. Steroids testing likely had some effect in offensive decline over the past several years, but there are other things at work.
The way pitching is scouted and developed is one. It’s like anything else: there was a pitching shortage for many years, pitching became more valuable to teams and thus better pitchers and pitching approaches were discovered and developed. Defense has been emphasized. A lot of hitters have been slow to adjust to an era in which strikeouts are more harmful to offensive production than they were back when homers were easier to come by. I’m still not entirely convinced that there hasn’t been a change in the ball, but we’ll probably never know that.
Anyway, point is that offense is down. I think it’s all a part of the pendulum swinging back and forth like it always has in baseball. Your mileage may vary. But just be wary of silver bullet explanations about anything. They’re very rarely correct.
Allen Craig has been dreadful since the Red Sox acquired him from the Cardinals in the mid-2014 John Lackey trade, slashing .128/.234/.191 in 107 plate appearances last year and .152/.239/.203 in 88 plate appearances at the major league level this year.
Craig hasn’t been the same player since suffering a Lisfranc injury in 2013, and the 31-year-old first baseman and corner outfielder is still owed $20 million from a five-year, $31 million extension he signed with the Cardinals. So, yeah, the Red Sox would love to find a taker this winter, as new club president Dave Dombrowski told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal on Tuesday …
You don’t often hear an executive express that kind of thing publicly. It was former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington who brought Craig to Boston.
Cardinals starter John Lackey had a clean first inning in Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but Anthony Rizzo opened the bottom of the second a shift-beating single to the left side of the infield and then Starlin Castro reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to short. Kyle Schwarber came through with a single and Jason Hammel followed a Miguel Montero strikeout with a two-out, run-scoring liner up the middle.
Enter young shortstop prospect Javier Baez, who’s filling in for the injured Addison Russell in Game 4 as the Cubs try to advance to the NLCS …
Opposite field. Wind-aided, sure, but it probably didn’t need the wind anyway. What a shot.
Chicago leads the visiting Cardinals 4-2 as the sixth inning gets underway at Wrigley.
Mets infielder Juan Uribe has been sidelined since late September with a chest injury and it sounds like he won’t be available for the NLCS if New York advances.
Mets manager Terry Collins told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that Uribe has yet to resume baseball activities and continues to experience discomfort.
Uribe was a useful late-July pickup for the Mets and hit .253 with 14 homers and a .737 OPS in 119 total games for three different teams this season, but his postseason role would be pretty limited even if he were healthy.