View Full Version : Baseball brownout: home runs down 18 percent

05-01-2002, 07:14 PM
AP Sports Writer
May 1, 2002

Home runs disappeared in April, along with managers and fans.

Reversing the power boom of recent years, major league baseball experienced a brownout in the first month of the season, with home runs dropping 18.4 percent, from 2.34 per game to 1.91.

Just two years ago, baseball's bashers set an April record with an average of 2.54 homers per game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the sport's statistician.

``The ball's not juiced,'' Boston's Nomar Garciaparra said sarcastically.

Baseball's power surge two years ago sent top officials scrambling to commission scientific tests, which showed the ball hadn't changed significantly.

``Maybe homers are down because it has been cooler,'' Cleveland's Ellis Burks said Wednesday. ``It could be the weather. Or it could just be baseball. There are a lot of things you can't explain in this game.''

It's not just batters who think home runs drop with the temperature

``It seems like it's been colder this season,'' San Francisco pitcher Kirk Rueter said. ``That might have something to do with it.''

Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, thinks enforcement of the proper strike zone, as it's defined in the rule book, may be a factor.

``We are seeing the low pitch called more consistently as a strike, as it should be,'' he said. ``If pitchers are going there more frequently, it may be more difficult to lift the ball and get it out of the ballpark. I certainly don't think it has anything to do with the balls or other equipment, the bats.''

April's biggest disappearance involved managers, with a record four teams -- Colorado, Detroit, Kansas City and Milwaukee -- changing dugout bosses. In addition, average attendance dropped 5.5 percent, from 27,750 to 26,217, with 20 of the 30 teams showing losses.

On the field, scoring dropped -- but a lot less steeply than home runs. There was an average of 9.25 runs per game, down 4.7 percent from the 9.61 through the first month last year. And the major league batting average dropped only slightly, from .260 to .258.

Boston outfielder Johnny Damon likes the trend of fewer homers.

``It's definitely a better game. There's a little more strategy,'' he said.

Strikeouts were down 6 percent, from 13.61 per game to 12.84, and walks increased 1.8 percent, from 6.78 to 6.90.

The average time of a nine-inning game was 2 hours, 54 minutes, exactly the same as the first month of last season. It was 2:59 in the first week but dropped to 2:51 in the fourth week.

``I think we're seeing some modest improvement there, which is what we're looking for,'' Alderson said

05-01-2002, 07:15 PM
here's a thought..maybe it's better pitching

05-03-2002, 06:16 PM
I don't think the pitching is as watered down as many people think. The athletic ability of pitchers and the strength training is making the shoulders more stable than in the past. The pitchers are also taking better care of themselves. But I think overall the pitching is better. But it is early in the year. Pitching always comes out fast and hitters catch up later.