That’s what you’re likely to hear nowadays at a baseball game. But back when the game was new, batters would bunt to move a runner over to the next base, or a player on first would steal a base, and then they’d come around to score on an RBI single. But why did this change happen? Is it that the players are getting slower? Are they getting more powerful? Or is it that the ball is different? Or is it a combination of all of them?
First of all to really get to know a problem one needs to know what happened. Over the past century, the major league averages have gone from 0.96 stolen bases per game and 0.13 home runs in 1917 to 0.52 stolen bases per game and 1.26 home runs per game in 2017. That difference is huge, and it keeps getting bigger each year.
A possible reason for all of this is that as home runs have risen and hitters have gotten bigger, coaches realized that the heavy hitters were nowhere near as fast as the players who stole bases—but they could hit the ball farther and harder. Because of this, coaches decided that it was too risky to try to steal. Instead they decided to keep runners on the bases, so more runs would score if a home run were hit.
With that strategy there was a lot less risk of getting out but more of a chance to score. And that has drastically changed the way people play baseball for years. A longtime manager told ESPN, “You change the pitchers, and you wait for somebody to hit a home run. You’re not doing nearly as much stuff as you used to. You don’t even think about doing some of that stuff.” (By “stuff” he meant sacrifice bunts and stealing, which have been becoming more and more scarce.)"
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