If you watched baseball in 2008 and all of a sudden, turned on the channel to find a baseball game in the year 2018, things would be much different. We know that players are striking out more now, it’s cooler to hit the long ball than to put the ball in play. Let’s examine seven trends in the past ten years and two bonus items that World Series winners over the past 10 years had in common. In each one of these, the difference may not be as much as you would think, but there is a gradual decline or increase to that number through the years.
Average Hitter’s Age
In 2008: 28.80 years old
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In 2018: 28.10 years old
It’s no secret that baseball players are getting younger, we had a few 19 year olds enrich the game with their flare and talents, and saw veterans like CC Sabathia and Adrian Beltre give their retirement plans. The game is younger, younger players sell more jerseys. The MLB even started a “Let the kids play” initiative.
Average Pitcher’s Age
In 2008: 28.60
In 2010: 28.40
Thanks to some crafty veterans that have been able to revive their careers in the past few years, this hasn’t changed as much as many have thought. In fact, teams are holding out top pitching talents longer than their top hitters. Injury concerns, work loads, etc all play a role. Pitch counts, inning limits are all a “thing” in 2018. Which brings me to my next point …
Total Complete Games by a Pitcher
In 2008: 136
In 2018: 42
Wow. That’s a huge drop. Only 42 complete games in 2018, down almost 100 since 2018. Did you know 209 players have thrown more than 42 complete games in ONE SEASON? The league leader in 2018 was 2. Managers don’t manage the same anymore. There’s pitch counts during a game, there’s the “you can’t pitch to anyone twice” method. A quality start is now 3 innings with no runs. Pitchers no longer need to have stamina to last nine innings. Bullpens have changed everything.
Total Wild Pitches Thrown
In 2008: 1,576
In 2018: 1,847
Not only are pitchers not able to go deep in games, they also have a harder time in finding the strike zone. In fact, they have a harder time finding the catchers mit. It’s the era of the power pitcher, the harder you throw, the better chance you have of playing in the majors … whether you can throw strikes or not. You know why? Because hitters are still swinging …
Strikeouts by Hitters
In 2008: 32,884
In 2018: 41,207
Home Run or Strike Out. Ooo or ahhh. How hard can you hit it? That’s all we care about these days. When’s the last time you saw a stat with a high exit velocity? Probably yesterday. It’s all about how hard you hit the ball. Has the strategy of the game changed or are those consistent contact, put the ball in play, hitters gone?
In 2008: .264
In 2018: .248
This shouldn’t be a surprise after reading the above, no one cares to make contact anymore. It used to be, hit one out of every three and you’re a hall of famer. Now? It’s hit one out of every four.
Total Stolen Bases
In 2008: 2,799
In 2018: 2,474
They aren’t hitting and now they aren’t even moving on the bases??? Perhaps it isn’t the attempts that are dwindling, but the fact that if they are on base less, then less opportunities to steal, right?
World Series Winners and WAR
There’s two position categories that stood out when researching the past ten years. Most world series winners were up and down in most positions but two. The first was Shortstop. Of all world series winners, eight out of 10 had a positive WAR at shortstop. That’s pretty good right? makes sense. But the #1 position teams should have a positive WAR at? Outfield. Nine out of 10 world series winners had a positive WAR and almost all were top three in WAR.
So, fans, your team better have a good shortstop and a great outfield to win. That’s it. Who cares about everyone else?