Posnanski: Greatest Generation: The pitchers of the Selig Era were the best in baseball history

From SABR member Joe Posnanski at NBC Sports on January 8, 2015:

Let’s talk about the greatest era for starting pitchers in baseball history. Well, before we do that, let’s begin with a few things you probably know about the Bud Selig Era, which, for our purposes, we will say was between 1994-2004:

1. More runs were scored in that period than at any time in baseball history. This had a lot to do with expansion – more teams means more runs – but it also was because of a wave of offense not seen in baseball since the 1930s, when there were many fewer teams and a shorter schedule.

2. More home runs were hit during that stretch than at any time in baseball history. Before 1994, there had only been one season – that crazy, juiced-ball season in 1987 – when teams averaged a homer per game. Between 1994-2004, teams averaged at least one homer per game every single season.

3. Before 1994, a total of 18 players had 50-plus homers in a season – that’s in the long history of baseball – and nobody had hit more than 61 in a season. From 1994-2004, another 18 players hit 50-plus homers, and players hit 63, 64, 65, 66, 70 and 73 home runs in single years.

4. For thirty seasons – 1964-93 – the major-league ERA was 3.74. From 1994-2004, the major league ERA was 4.49.

None of this is surprising. You already know that the Selig Era – that turbulent time with labor strife and small strike zones and hitters wearing body armor, that turbulent time without drug testing or humidors or excessive defensive shifts – was famous for offense, for home runs, for unbearably long 11-9 games, usually played in Baltimore. You already know that the most distinctive features of the Selig Era were Barry Bonds home runs that landed in the Bay, and Sammy Sosa kisses to heaven, and Mark McGwire’s titanic batting practice home runs played to enormous crowds. You know the era. Right?

John Gardner, the former Secretary of Health, once said this: “History never looks like history when you are living through it.”

And it turns out the Selig Era was about pitching all along.

Read the full article here: http://sportsworld.nbcsports.com/the-greatest-generation/

Originally published: January 8, 2015. Last Updated: January 8, 2015.