Rays manager Joe Maddon is going to spend the off-season answering a question he posed to MLB.com’s Bill Chastain: “What do you do to where the hitter gains an advantage?”
“It’s becoming an industry-wide situation,” Maddon said. “Offenses. It’s gone backwards. The next big frontier is to figure that out. How do you generate offense in 2015 like you did several years ago, when we were able to combine pitching and defense with victories because we got up one-run plus as opposed to one-run minus.
“The hitter’s at a total disadvantage right now,” Maddon said. “And there’s no advantages on the horizon. I don’t see it. That’s why it’s going to take a lot of creative thinking.”
Maddon’s Rays entered Sunday’s action averaging 3.83 runs per game, the second-lowest in the American League behind the Red Sox. But he’s right: offense has been in freefall over the last five seasons. In 2009, the major league average OPS was .751. In 2010, it dropped to .728, then to .720, rose slightly up to .724, fell to .714, and currently sits at .701. It’s the lowest average OPS since 1992, when it was an even .700. It hasn’t been below .700 since 1989, when it was .695.
There are a plethora of explanations, all of which could explain to some degree the lack of offense. Maddon suggests the recent technological advances have benefited pitching and defense more than hitting. Harsher punishments for using PED’s, the rise in dominance of relievers, and the increase in strikeouts could also have played a factor.