Russ’s Rants - - “The Year of the Pitcher” Isn’t For Real
Why are there some very low ERA’s in the major league baseball? This year has been termed “The Year of the Pitcher” but that year already happened in 1968 when Bob Gibson led the National League with a measly 1.12 ERA. After that season MLB lowered the mound and that hasn’t happened again until now?
I know it’s only June but I can dispel the myth right now before it goes any further. It’s not the mounds but in 1969 when they changed the mound they reduced the strike zone as well. Now that’s where this starts but I’ll get back to this point in a moment.
In 1968 I’ll examine the NL, and we’ll only use the NL because the league is still the same whereas the AL has added the DH so you can’t compare a non DH era with a DH era, it’s impossible to do that. So in 1968 the NL teams averaged 3.4 runs per game and the league ERA was 2.99. Now if this is the year of the pitcher how can NL teams be averaging 4.4 runs per game (1 more run per game on average is a lot) and the team ERA has ballooned to 4.24?
So on average team pitching has gotten much worse than’ 68 but the hitting is better. So what we are seeing is a change in the umpiring once again. Announcers and fans complain nightly about the strike zone that no longer has any uniformity. Since it is so erratic only a handful of very talented pitchers in each league have figured it out and that’s why they are excelling. They have adjusted but most pitchers are affected every time they take the hill.
So really a percentage of pitchers are performing like 1968 but the vast majority isn’t performing even close to those numbers and never will. I predict that by the end of the season we will see some stud pitchers with great numbers but nothing like Gibson’s 1.12 and when it’s all said and done, based on these early statistics, this “Year of the Pitcher” moniker will fade away.