A bear market for batters

MLB batters don’t make contact with the ball as much as they used to, making for a game that emphasizes strikeouts and walks instead of hits and defense.

The long-term decline in contact rate ((AB-K)/AB) has accompanied a trend toward fewer home runs, fewer runs scores and lower batting averages. Contact rates have been steadily falling since they reached a peak in 1981 unseen since 1956.

Many fans, myself included, would prefer a game with more balls put in play, but baseball has changed in the statistically oriented, post-steroids era. Batters understand the value of a walk, and they’re not afraid to strike out, setting K records in nine straight seasons.

When will this pattern end, leading to more contact and more run scoring? There’s no way of knowing.

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