SOUTH HILLS – There’s a number of reasons for baseball’s decline in offense, as run scoring contracted for an eighth consecutive year last season to 4.07 runs per team per game. That’s fewest runs per game since 1981.
There’s the proliferation of shifts, the increase in throwing velocity (which partially explains the deluge of strike outs), the fact that almost all new data and technology flowing into the sport has helped run prevention. (See: shifts, batter’s hot zones, etc.) But there’s something else interesting at work against hitters tied to new technology.
Jon Roegele of The Hardball Times found in studying PITCHf/x data that the strike zone is expanding. In comparing 2009 to 2014, the strike zone has expanded by 35 square inches for left-handed hitters, according to Rogele, and 46 square inches for right-handed hitters . Yahoo! baseball columnist Jeff Passan reported yesterday the study has drawn the interest of Major League Baseball. New commissioner Rob Manfred wants to add offense to the game and some estimates indicate the expanded strike zone is responsible for 30 percent of the run scoring erosion.