Orioles Victory Number 16: 3-2 over the Chicago White Sox
2001 Topps Delino DeShields
Welcome to the modern baseball victory. In their 3-2 win Monday night the Orioles had 5 hits. Three of them were solo home runs. They also struck out 12 times. Mark Trumbo went 1-4 with a home run and 3 strikeouts to personify the current era of the game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau April was the first month in the history of the major leagues where more strikeouts were recorded than hits. Professional hitters struck out 6,656 times during games played in April while only recording 6,360 hits.
The Orioles are no exception. In March/April Oriole batters had 207 hits while they struck out 250 times. The most egregious player was Chris Davis (no surprise) as he had 32 strikeouts and only 15 hits throughout the month. Manny Machado was at the other end of the spectrum, accumulating 37 hits against only 15 strikeouts.
This trend isn't going anywhere. Players are striking out more and more (10 seasons in a row the strikeout totals have risen) as the "hit it far or don't hit it all" trend continues. Throw in some historically bad weather and the specialized use of bullpens it's no wonder that so many players are striking out these days.
Of course this leads to plenty of columns bemoaning the effects this has on the game. What's even better are the ones that try to tie it to the rise of analytics. Are there more strikeouts and home runs? Yes. Is it the end of baseball? No. Does it lead to some boring-ass innings where it seems like nothing happens? Yes. In the overall sense of the game are their still moments that are fun and exciting to watch, yes as well.
How long will this continue? Probably at least for the next few seasons. Baseball is nothing if not cyclical. At some point a team, most likely a lower-budget team, will start amassing a bunch of players that hit it to all fields and keep it in the park. They'll score a bunch of runs and then the other teams in the league will copy them. That's just the way sports go.