Sullivan: The rise of more all-fields offense

From SABR member Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on January 5, 2016:

You should be well aware of the general offensive trend: Offense is down, relative to the previous era. At the turn of the millennium, the league combined for almost 25,000 runs. A couple years ago, baseball fell short of the 20,000 mark. Last season’s rebound was encouraging, but only partial, and driven by an increase in home runs. There’s nothing more valuable for offense than homers, but the biggest problem are strikeouts, the frequency of which has soared past one-per-five plate appearances. To sum this up: Runs are harder to score than they used to be, with strikeouts now higher than ever.

That’s the most important thing. Also, it’s the easiest to notice. It’s plainly obvious that strikeouts are reaching an absurd level, and we know a 3.50 ERA isn’t what we used to think. So as far as the commissioner is concerned, he’s going to want to keep his eye on the overall run level. But if you dig in deeper, there’s another trend. Hitters are producing fewer runs, sure, but the runs being produced are also made in kind of a different way. It’s an intuitive way, and an interesting way, given yet another trend that’s taken the game by storm. It would appear that, league-wide, hitters are getting better at using all fields.

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Originally published: January 5, 2016. Last Updated: January 5, 2016.