Whiff of Offense: Strikeouts Top Hits in Month for 1st Time
NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball had a whiff of offense in the air during a cold and wet April.
Strikeouts exceeded hits during a full calendar month for the first time in the sport's nearly century-and-a-half history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Nearly one-third of plate appearances this season have ended without the ball being put in play.
Major League Baseball has increasingly become a game of long balls and long walks — back to the dugout.
There were 6,656 strikeouts and 6,360 hits in April, according to Elias. The previous low differential was in April 2017, when there were 138 more hits than strikeouts.
Including the first three days of the season in March, 32.8 percent of 32,324 plate appearances this season have ended without a batted ball in play: 7,335 strikeouts, 2,921 walks, 354 hit batters and eight catcher's interference calls.
"Everyone wants more action, so I can't probably say it's good for baseball unless you want to go out there and see pitchers go for 25 strikeouts," said Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, a Hall of Famer. "I just don't think that would be the choice day to day for most people to come out and watch."
Home runs dipped slightly from last year's record level. There were 912 long balls in 419 games through Monday, an average of 2.18, down from 863 in 369 games through the first full month last year, an average of 2.34. Scoring dropped slightly to 8.93 runs per game from 8.96.
Strikeouts have set a record for 10 consecutive seasons, and the average of 17.5 per game in April was a major league record for a calendar month, according to Elias. This year's rate projects to 42,539 — which would shatter last year's mark of 40,104. The total was 32,884 in 2008.