Comparing 2012 offense to 2011 (it’s crashing and burning, folks)

Here’s a quick look at offensive numbers in 2012 vs 2012. Both are through the first 142 games of each season.

(First number is 2011, second number is 2012, all are on a per-game basis):

             2011  2012
Runs scored: 4.56  4.02
HR:          1.06  0.99
2B:          1.65  1.61
BB:          3.20  3.13
K:           7.01  7.42
BA:           .255  .235
SLG:          .406  .385

Ummm…wow. Offense is way down so far this year compared to the same timeframe last year, and last year’s offense continued the overall trend of decline.

If run scoring remains this low for the entire season, it will be the lowest since 1981 (strike-shortened) and 1976 (full-season).

Look  in particular at the strikeouts, which are ridiculously high, up nearly 6% from last year, and last year was a record year for strikeouts!!

UPDATE:

Here are numbers through the first 172 games of each season, 2011 and 2012. All numbers are per game.

      2011  2012   % change in 2012
R     4.55   4.06    -11%
HR    0.98   0.95    -3%
2B    1.75   1.64    -6%
K     6.94   7.51    +8%
BB    3.22   3.14    -2%
BA     .256   .237   -7%
SLG    .404   .383   -5%

These numbers are even more divergent than a couple of days ago!!

Here are some pitching numbers, beyond Ks and BBs as shown above:

            2011     2012      % change in 2012
ERA         4.13     3.66         -11%
IP/start    5.86     5.92         +1%
WHIP        1.334    1.237        -7%

Comments

Comparing 2012 offense to 2011 (it’s crashing and burning, folks) — 32 Comments

  1. It’s 1968 all over again! So who’s going to win 30 games?

    Serious question – what’s the 2011-2012 comparison for BABIP? Because the extra-base hits and walks are down only slightly, most of the decrease in scoring may be due to a random unlucky variation of BABIP, and will stabilize to 2011 levels fairly quickly. Thoughts?

    • BAbip in 2012 is .271. In April of 2011 it was .290. So, yeah, there is a pretty big difference there, especially since fewer balls are being put into play with more strikeouts.

      • The last time MLB had a batting month of .271 or lower was March/April of 1985(also .271). Scrolling through the years, April is very often the lowest BABIP month of the season(over 75% of the time). Is this cold weather related or do batters just take a little longer than pitchers to find their groove? I’d say a little of both, but I would lean toward pitchers having the upper hand early over batters trying to find their swing.

        • To listen to the players and coaches spring training is only as long as it is for the pitchers – the batter need much less time to get ready.

          I would suspect cold weather (ball doesn’t travel as far in cold weather) and better starting pitchers (extra off days means many teams skip their 5th starter one or twice through the rotation).

          We should also take a look at the multi-year park factors for the first X games of this year vs. last year to see if there might be some impact from the schedule.

  2. I don’t know if 6 games per team makes a decent sample size (which I’m sure is more than well understood by Andy, who has more baseball knowledge in any appendage of his choice than I have).

    The Cardinals are doing their part to buck the trend. Prior to today:
    .310/.380/.532
    Runs: 5.667/game
    HR: 1.833/game
    2B: 2.167/game
    BB: 3.833/game
    K: 8.333/game (ouch)

    • Six games per team isn’t a lot, but keep in mind the BA/SLG numbers are over more than 5000 plate appearances each year. Definitely statistically significant.

      • I’m not sure I disagree with that theory. 5000 ABs is a large number to be sure. But that assumes a level of complete independence between individual ABs, player ABs, game ABs, and team ABs that doesn’t exist. We are not talking about 5000 independent events, as this does not take into consideration the health of the 700 or so involved, weather, or anything else.

        Is the information compelling? Yes. Is it a small sample size? Yes.

    • And just why did Matheny sit Beltran, Berkman, and Freese? I realize they’re both older and Freese has a history of injuries as well as the day game after a night game thing, but it is 60 degrees and only April. How about resting those guys against the Pirates instead of the most likely contender for the NL Central flag?

      Anyway, 4-3 loss. Freese had a PH appearance and K’d on 4 pitches

      • Agreed. I suppose there’s the “hey..we’re 5-1” argument…but that’s best when you’re 10 games up and it’s late September. It’s the Reds. This is not the team you want to use to gin up some ABs for Carpenter and Descalso. Be up 9-0 in the 8th and put them in.

    • It’s an interesting question, Bill. Warmer weather is usually better for hitters, but obviously we usually see warmer weather later in the year, when injuries to pitchers have mounted, as well as tired arms. It’s not immediately obvious to me what warmer weather in April means.

      • Anectdotally, higher temperatures increase offense; the summer of 1987 was one of the hottest ever, and runs/game spiked (4.72 – highest between 1950 and 1994).

  3. Interesting topic, Andy. My first hunch was that such a small sample is meaningless — but a look at recent history suggests it actually may have some predictive value.

    I looked at the first 5 games for each team for the previous 11 years, 2001-11, and compared the average R/G for those games to the year-end total. (Note that this is a slightly different set than Andy’s “first 142 MLB games,” leading to slightly different numbers.)

    – The average difference between early scoring and overall scoring was +/- 6.1%.

    – Just once was the early scoring more than 10% different from the overall figure. That was 2006, when teams averaged 5.47 R/G in the first 5 games, but 4.86 for the year.

    On the other hand:

    The 2011 gap from early to overall scoring was one of the biggest in the study group, at 8.1% (4.63 and 4.28 R/G, respectively). So while the early numbers for this year are well below last year’s early numbers, it doesn’t necessarily forecast a significant drop in scoring.

    If the overall 2012 scoring falls within the range of percentage differences seen in the studied years, it will be in the range of 3.54 to 4.50 R/G. Last year’s final figure was 4.28 R/G. So in spite of the low early scoring this year, we might still see no significant change in scoring, or even an increase over last year, without violating the norms of the past 11 years in terms of the relationship of early scoring to overall scoring.

    I also think there may be more meaning in comparing the early scoring level of Year N to the Year N-1 overall scoring, rather than early scoring.

    In 2001, the early scoring (4.93) was below the prior year’s overall scoring (5.04), and that held up for 2001 overall scoring (4.78). I’ll call that a “down, down” year. Here are the comparisons for the years studied (change of less than .05 R/G will be counted as “same”):

    2001: down, down
    2002: down, down
    2003: up, up
    2004: up, up
    2005: up, down
    2006: up, up
    2007: down, down
    2008: down, down
    2009: up, same
    2010: down, down
    2011: up, down

    Out of 11 years, 8 saw early scoring and overall scoring go the same direction compared the prior year’s overall scoring. Two years saw them go in opposite directions, and one year saw a split decision.

  4. A somewhat bold, early call, there Andy :-)

    Last year Boston finished 90-72 after a 0-6 start. By the end of May they were 30-25. They are now 1-4. Does this mean that they are going to have a better or worse season than last year?

    Or have I misread you completely?

    • You’re talking about a MUCH smaller, MUCH more biased sample, i.e. 6 events, not independent, competition-dependent, etc. My post is about many, many more events that, while also not independent, are a lot closer to independent.

      • All true, Andy. It is more the prediction based on the sample size.

        On the Runs, for example. The average runs/game

        Since 1962: 4.34
        Since 1999: 4.69
        Last year: 4.28

        I suspect that, post-PED, we are heading back to the long-term 162-game average of 4.34 (the Hits/game last year was right on the average).

        As JA mentioned in another post, the K rate is way up. And I don’t really know what at means, aside from the obvious :-)

  5. I’d say the offensive trend was typified by the Japan series to open the ML baseball season.

    Thanks for digging up the early-year numbers for 2011 and 2012, Andy.

    Home runs, of course, are affected by air temperature which relates inversely to air density so it may be a cold-weather blip in northern parks.

    Littleball is upon us, but how long will it take managers to realize it? :-)

  6. Pingback: So far, offense is offensive | HardballTalk

  7. May be too late to post back here, but 2011, for some reason, was a particularly start for hitters. Althrough runs per game may have started out at 4.56 for the first 142 games, it settled down into a more normal 4.28 by the end of the season.

    This year, hitters are off to a slow start.

  8. Maybe I’m missing something, but there have only been 110 games played so far this year? Can somebody explain to me where the 142 and 172 numbers are coming from? Maybe I’m missing something, but surprised nobody has pointed this out yet.

    • Jack — Andy and others are counting “team-games,” because offense is usually expressed in terms of runs per team per game. An actual game constitutes 2 team-games.

  9. Scoring is starting to bounce back nicely. As of Friday the 13th, the ML average runs per game is back to 4.14,compared to least year’s full-season total of 4.28 RPG.

    The ML RPG is likely to go up a couple of hundredths after today with a couple of big scores.

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