Mar 17, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; MLB Network sportscasters Bob Costas (left) and Harold Reynolds (right) before the game between Japan and Puerto Rico during the World Baseball Classic semifinal at AT&T Park. Image Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Hitting Decline of 2014


Hitting has been in decline throughout the course of the 2014 baseball season.

MLB Network Roundtable presented by Delta Airlines: The Hitting Dilemma will air this Saturday, July 5 at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Central. The roundtable will feature MLB Network’s Bob Costas, Harold Reynolds, Al Leiter and Tom Verducci. The four of them will be joined by Michael Young as they examine why offensive production continues to be in decline.

“It’s harder to get a hit in the big leagues today than at any point since 1972,” Tom Verducci argues. “What did they do in 1972? They changed the game drastically with something called the designated hitter. I think we’re at the point where we have to think about ways to make the game better offensively.”

“”People are confusing disciplined at-bats with walking all the time,” Young says about htting approaches at the plate. “It’s great if you have a guy like Joey Votto who can find a way to do both. Hit for power, get on base 45 percent of the time, [and] run up pitch counts. … But a lot of times, I’ve seen great hitters with great plans, great disciplined approaches get a great pitch to hit and barrel it up in the gap, and it might be the first or second pitch of the at-bat. That’s a great disciplined at-bat. … A disciplined at-bat and a walk aren’t the same thing.”

One can look to the St. Louis Cardinals as example of such decline. The offense this season is nowhere near what it could and should be. Yadier Molina was hitting as high as .367 on April 23 this season. As a whole, Molina hit .344/.373/.510 in April. Molina entered the month of May hitting .350 but following a 25-for-94 (.266) month at the plate, Molina exited the month with a .309 batting average. Unfortunately for the Cardinals catcher, June was much worse as his numbers were down across the board (.210/.278/.309) as he went 17-for-81 at the plate.

The roundtable will take a look at the decrase in the decline in the average runs-per-game over the last six of seven seasons. They will look at the different approaches that hitters are taking at the plate. There’s been a rise in power pitchers of late–in turn, this has led to a higher strikeout rate. Managers are using specialized bullpens and, especially for left-handed hitters, the defensive infield shift. These are just a few of the things that the roundtable is going to look at.

Not only will the panel discuss what ways teams can improve their offense but they will talk about their thoughts on the new rules for this season: expanded replay and the home plate collisions.

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