Sports | May 16, 2022 12:34 pm

Early Offensive Numbers in MLB Are Downright Offensive

Batting average across Major League Baseball is at an anemic .234

Max Muncy strikes out swinging with the bases loaded for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Max Muncy strikes out swinging with the bases loaded for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty

Whether it is due to a lack of spring training, an issue with the actual baseballs or something else entirely, there’s no denying that Major League Baseball is experiencing an offensive drought of epic proportions.

With the majority of teams closing in on 40 games played for the season, batting average across MLB sits at an anemic .234, and there are only five ballclubs (Rockies, Phillies, Nationals, Guardians and Mets) hitting above .250 as a team. On the flip side, there are 12 teams hitting below .230 on the season thus far. In a year that saw the designated hitter become universal across both the AL and NL, those are not the offensive numbers that MLB was expecting to see.

There’s reason to believe that the bats will wake up as the season progresses, as overall batting average through the end of April last season was just .232 but rose to .244 by the end of the year, but there’s also the possibility that performance at the plate will get even worse. So far, the offensive decline hasn’t really hurt attendance across the league, but it’s certainly possible a lack of runs will eventually lead to a lack of fans.

That’s certainly been the case in Oakland, where the Athletics were able to draw fewer than 3,000 fans for a game against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays earlier this month. The A’s, who are hoping to get a new stadium but could also be relocating if they are unable to land a new home in Oakland, are hitting just .200 as a team and are fourth in the league in strikeouts (322). The poor offensive numbers aren’t the only reason the A’s are last in MLB in attendance with an average of only 8,421 fans per game through Saturday, but they certainly aren’t helping matters either.

The A’s are an extreme example, and there’s no reason for MLB to overreact to the lack of offensive output this season, but an increase in plate production would certainly be a positive development for a league that has been struggling with drawing attention in recent years.

“It’s hard to say anything is a trend yet,” Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly said earlier this month. “For hitters, it takes a while. Once they lock in timing, you’ll see guys that start off slow, but once they kind of click it in, then it just stays there.”

Hopefully Mattingly is right and MLB’s hitters will start to heat up as the summer weather does the same thing.