The Spike’s Trophies team loves a well-pitched game of baseball as much as the next fan. We offer players a baseball glove trophy for a variety of pitcher accolades. However, the league-wide offensive struggles have been concerning for players and fans alike of both the Phillies and MLB baseball as a whole.
We’re almost two full months into the MLB season, and there are a few trends that have started to take shape. We’ve seen Shohei Ohtani take the American League by storm at the plate and on the mound. We’ve seen the NL East stay tightly packed around the .500 mark. Now we’ve seen SIX No-Hitters before June; the record for a season is seven. The offense has been down across the board this season, with teams like the Seattle Mariners hitting under .200 as a team, strikeouts on the rise, and home runs falling, America’s pastime is seeing offensive numbers like only seen in the Deadball Era and the “Season of the Pitcher” 1968. This coincidentally saw a rash of changes across the league, such as introducing the designated hitter to the American League. What is causing the fall in offensive numbers in 2021, and can warm weather alone be enough to wake up the bats?
Shifting Offensive Philosophies Finally Catching Up?
In recent years around MLB teams and prognosticators, you’ve heard buzzwords like “launch angles,” “exit velocity,” and “spin rate” that analytics departments across the sport have focused on. Baseball has always been a sport revolving around teams taking different approaches that work for other teams and applying them to their organizations. So as more teams have focused on achieving optimal launch angles, generating more exit velocity, and worrying less about their hitters striking out, you’ve seen the way offenses approach hitting change. More hitters have become pull-happy; shifting has become the norm for defensive alignments, to the point that there is talk about banning defensive shifting in the collective bargaining agreement due at the end of the season. Fewer hitters are going the other way, and it contributes to pitchers having their way with lineups. But it’s not the only potential reason for the lagging offensive numbers.
Players Built Different
Pitching has changed drastically over the years. Pitchers throwing 95 MPH and above are no longer rarities that come along only every so often. Most MLB bullpens feature multiple guys that can throw 95+ and touch triple digits on a nightly basis. Hitters have even less time to react to a fastball coming in, and the changes in velocity on change-ups and other off-speed pitches can be downright unfair. As hitters attempt to make snap decisions on whether or not to swing at the high-velocity pitches coming in, the pitches are also darting, cutting, and moving in ways that increase the hitting difficulty to extreme levels. Whether moving the mound back any further will help give batters the extra time they need; hitting a baseball remains one of the most challenging things to do in sports.
Can Warmer Weather Help?
Historically, offenses usually take some time to warm up before they fire on all cylinders. The warm weather of summer usually allows the balls to travel further, and hitters get back on track. But can we rely on the warm weather boost for baseball this year when many hitters are having difficulty even making contact? Is it a matter of completely changing hitting philosophy again and bringing back more hitting for contact than swinging for the fences every time? It’s hard to say. As professional hitters look for ways to add new hardware for their display cases, teams and the commissioner’s office must reckon with the game’s trajectory and what they can do to course-correct and bring some excitement back to the game.
The Spike’s Trophies team will be watching the rest of the MLB season, waiting to see if the offenses will rediscover their groove. For fans in and around the Philadelphia area, we offer sports awards for various leagues of every skill level. Contact the Spike’s Trophies team to learn more and place an order with us today!