Ferkovich: This year in baseball, 1968

From SABR member Scott Ferkovich at The National Pastime Museum on April 12, 2016:

It was called the Year of the Pitcher, and with good reason.

In 1968, Major League Baseball batted a collective .237, the lowest in history. Teams scored only 3.42 runs per game. The New York Yankees hit a pathetic .214 as a team. Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting title with a .301 mark. The Cardinals’ Bob Gibson set a post Deadball Era record with a microscopic 1.12 earned run average (and somehow lost nine games in the process).

It was not a one-year fluke, however. The 1960s were an offensively challenged era, for a number of reasons. The primary one was the expansion of the strike zone in 1963, reinterpreted to include the area from the shoulders to the bottom of the knee. Also, the lack of any type of oversight mandating a maximum height for the pitcher’s mound was a major factor.

But other variables were in play as well: newer ballparks (particularly Dodger Stadium, Candlestick Park, the Oakland Coliseum, and Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium) featured bigger foul territory and more pitching-friendly dimensions. Larger fielders’ gloves were also coming into fashion. Nighttime baseball was more prevalent. Advertisements were still permitted on center-field fences, which affected how the hitter saw the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/1968

Originally published: April 12, 2016. Last Updated: April 12, 2016.