Was 2010 Really the ‘Year of the Pitcher’?

From Gabriel Schechter at Never Too Much Baseball on March 24:

Although pitchers overall fared better in 2010 than they had in recent years, by no means did they dominate hitters, and they certainly didn’t approach the success that pitchers achieved in 1968. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

The league ERAs in 2010 were 4.02 in the National League and 4.14 in the American League. These are the lowest figures since 1992, when both leagues had ERAs under 3 and nobody thought it was “year of the pitcher”. It was the last year before expansion from 26 to 28 teams, followed by two more teams a few years later, which combined with other factors to bring a boom in offense. How much did expansion affect the numbers? In 1992, the ERA in the NL was 3.50; in 1993, mainly thanks to the 5.41 team ERA posted by the inaugural staff of shellshocked Rockies pitchers, it jumped to 4.04. In the AL, which didn’t even expand, merely lost some talent in the expansion draft, the ERA went from 3.94 to 4.32.

It has taken almost 20 years to whittle that expansion effect (and other effects) back down to where offense was at the time. But it’s nowhere year what the major leagues experienced in 1968. That year, the NL’s league ERA was 2.99, with a 2.98 mark for the American League, the first time since the Deadball Era that both leagues had sub-3 ERAs. Thirteen of the 20 major league teams had an ERA under 3. That’s a year of pitchers!

Read the full article here: http://charlesapril.com/2011/03/2010-was-not-year-of-pitcher.html

Originally published: March 24, 2011. Last Updated: March 24, 2011.