What has happened to MLB offenses this season?

by ASA, Inc.

What’s up with MLB offenses this season?  Do we have an influx of below average hitters or has the pitching become that dominant?  The average team BA as of May 23rd is just .237.  To put how poor that is in perspective, the last time the league average was lower than .237 was NEVER!  And those numbers go back to 1871.  Are you kidding me?  MLB did hit for an average of exactly .237 back in 1968 but never lower than that.  Even through the so called “dead ball ERA” in the early 1900’s the league batting average never dipped below .239.  Now we realize it’s still early and things can improve but the offenses have been poor so far this season to say the least.
 
Let’s did a little deeper.  Teams are averaging less than 8 hits per game on the season which is also historically bad.  Since the 1910 season, only ONCE has the league averaged less than 8 hits per game and that also was in 1968.  The average number of at bats per team is 33 and the average strike outs per game is just over 9.  So nearly 30% of the time players are walking to the plate and getting sent back to the dugout with a K!  The league has never averaged more than 9 strike outs per game which is some more perspective on just how poor it has been early on in 2021.  The MLB OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage) is at .709 which is the 2nd lowest number since 1992.  The average RPG scored per team is 4.39 which is the lowest since 2015.  We could go on and on but we all get the point that MLB offenses have been far from stellar this season but why?  Is it dominant pitching?  Maybe defensive positioning with more shifts to take away hitter’s strengths?  Simply a run of hitter’s that might just be below what this league is used to?  It’s tough to pinpoint one main reason and is most likely a combination of all of the above plus other factors.
 
How has this affected Totals this year?  It hasn’t necessarily created a market where the Unders are cashing regularly.  In fact our numbers show the Overs have actually come in a bit more often this season with a record of 662-648-44 as of Sunday, May 23rd.  Even in Divisional match ups where we might expect the Unders to be a bit stronger the Overs have a very slight advantage at 312-309-20.  The oddsmakers have obviously adjusted as we’re seeing 7, 7.5, and 8 as common totals nowadays.  Offensive numbers are way down this season but blindly betting Unders because of that hasn’t been a profit maker.       

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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