• Steve Potter

5/10/21 : Changing Times

In the “Did Ya Know” category here’s a look back over the past 60 years or so into baseball history in regards to some pitching data. Specifically a decade by decade comparison of some averages ... plate appearances/game, runs/game, strikeouts/game, pitchers/game, pinch hitters/game and pitches/plate appearance ( for years available ).

I chose 60 years because I’m 61 and am reflecting on the changing times of the game from a person from my age perspective 🤓. As usual the data comes from the great source of intel found on baseball reference 👍.


Plate Appearances/Game :


The averages per game ( both teams combined ) that batters appeared in the box. The higher numbers indicate more runners on base via walks/hits/etc. Some may say that would indicate more action with more runners on the base paths 🤔.

1960-1969 - 75.8

1970-1979 - 76.3

1980-1989 - 76.3

1990-1999 - 77.2

2000-2009 - 77.3

2010-2019 - 76.1

2020-2021 - 74.3

Runs/Game :


So ... if we idealize that more plate appearances per game indicates more action on the base paths does that correlate to more runs per game ... here’s a look at the averages ( total runs per game ) 👀. The two decades from 1990 to 2009 had the highest average number of plate appearances and the highest average of runs per game ... last year’s shortened season and this year thus far show higher runs per game but a plate appearance average akin to the 1960 to 1989 time frame ... this year in fact has had the lowest number of plate appearances in the sixty year.


1960-1969 - 8.1

1970-1979 - 8.3

1980-1989 - 8.6

1990-1999 - 9.3

2000-2009 - 9.5

2010-2019 - 8.8

2020-2021 - 9.0

Strikeouts per Game :


Of course not every plate appearance results in a ball being put in play ... how do strikeout performance reflect over the course of the 60 years ? Here’s a look at the average strikeouts/game ( per individual teams ).


1960-1969 - 5.7

1970-1979 - 5.1

1980-1989 - 5.3

1990-1999 - 6.1

2000-2009 - 6.6

2010-2019 - 7.8

2020-2021 - 8.8


Pitchers/Game :


It’s often indicated that today’s game is more specialized. Starting pitchers don’t go as long in the games and more hurlers are needed. Here’s a look at the average number of pitchers/game ( per individual team ) over the 60 year period.


1960-1969 - 2.3

1970-1979 - 2.6

1980-1989 - 2.5

1990-1999 - 3.3

2000-2009 - 3.8

2010-2019 - 4.1

2020-2021 - 4.4


Seems we transitioned during the 1990’s to a game where less than three pitchers were need per game to what has trended to four over the last twenty years or so.


Pinch Hitters/Game :


With pitching specialty increasing one might think that pinch hitters would also be on the rise over the course of years. Of course the DH was introduced in 1973 so the data will skew a bit when compared to earlier years ... here’s a look at the average pinch hitters/game ( per individual team ).


1960-1969 - 1.4

1970-1979 - 1.2

1980-1989 - 1.3

1990-1999 - 1.2

2000-2009 - 1.2

2010-2019 - 1.1

2020-2021 - 0.9


Pitches/Plate Appearances :


This data wasn’t available for the fulll time period ... only 1999 to present has been captured in a prolonged run... here’s a look at the average number of pitches thrown per plate appearance from years 1999 to present.


1999 - 3.74

2000 to 2009 - 3.8

2010 to 2019 - 3.9

2020 to 2021 - 4.0

Just some data to ponder 🤔. Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same ... other times change occurs yet we don’t remember it as such. 🤪. Baseball mirrors life or is that vice versa 🥴


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️




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