As I wrote in an earlier column, we’ve seen a lot of no-hitters already in 2021. Even the silly seven-inning doubleheader games have produced a no-hitter. No sportsbook has of yet offered a No-Hitter Special Bet (pick the next pitcher to toss a no-no), but it seems like a good idea (are you reading, DraftKings?)
Run Scoring Is Down Across The Major Leagues
Here’s the average Runs Scored Per Game in the majors at ten-year intervals between 1979 and 2019, the last full season.
- 2021: 4.38 RPG
- 2019: 4.83 RPG
- 2009: 4.61 RPG
- 1999: 5.08 RPG
- 1989: 4.13 RPG
- 1979: 4.46 RPG
Run-scored levels are currently below what they were in the 1970s, when MLB instituted rules to help the offense, by lowering the mound (after the 1968 season) and creating the designated hitter (for the 1973 season). Even with the home run levels continuing to stay pretty high in 2021, run-scoring is down about half a run from two years ago, and 7/10ths of a run from the late 1990s when players were consuming steroids like pre-teens eat Flintstone chewable vitamins.
Why Run Scoring Is Down
These are the reasons we see runs down across professional baseball:
- Pitchers are focusing on spin rate, making the baseball harder to hit.
- Teams are utilizing defensive shifts to take away hits.
- Batters are concentrating mostly on launch angle, meaning they sacrifice contact in favor of going for the home run.
- Pitchers are throwing harder more often.
- Teams have almost completely abandoned runner-advancement strategies like the stolen base, sacrifice, and hit-and-run.
What Lower Run Scoring Means For Bettors
Gamblers should pay attention to three things when setting up their betting strategy:
- Since even average pitchers are seeing great swing-and-miss results, many games will see few scoring opportunities. As a result, look to bet the Under (total runs scored by not teams).
- With so many pitchers posting great numbers, it should make hitters more important and valuable. Consider betting on a hitter to win the MVP awards, as opposed to a pitcher. Good odds are available from FanDuel on Shohei Ohtani, for example, to win the AL MVP.
- Wager on pitching-rich teams, such as the Dodgers, Padres, Yankees, Mets, White Sox, and even the Mets, as playoff teams. DraftKings Sportsbook has playoff make-or-miss odds for every MLB team. The Mets are currently -106 to make the postseason.
Can Anyone Hit Safely In 57 Straight Games?
For several years now, MLB.com has offered a contest on their website called “Beat The Streak.” It allows contestants to select one batter each day, and as long as they record a hit, their “hitting streak” builds. If you make 57 correct picks in a row, you win $5.6 million. The contest honors Joe DiMaggio’s record hitting streak of 56 games, which was accomplished in 1941, and remains one of the game’s most difficult records to break.
How likely is it that someone will correctly choose a player who gets a hit in 57 straight games? Well, one amateur mathematician calculated it as 0.001357% chance of predicting 57 straight games. If you want to try your hand at it, go to MLB.com Beat The Streak, it’s free to play (though you must create a free account on the website). If you need help, Baseball Musings has a handy tool to help you identify the hottest batters at any one moment.
So far in a few years taking a hack at Beat The Streak, the longest streak I’ve had is 19 games, which wouldn’t even give me the hitting streak record of the fairly new Tampa Bay Rays. A few seasons back, some fan got his Beat The Streak streak at 39 games, which is Paul Molitor territory, but still more than two weeks from Joltin’ Joe’s record.
Baseball Trivia Question That Will Win You A Free Drink
Which brothers hold the franchise records for longest hitting streak for two American League teams?
Another Special Baseball Moment Of The Week
Javier Baez is sort of the Russell Westbrook of Major League Baseball. He’s capable of stunning plays, but is just as likely to do something silly like try to hit a 800-foot homer when a groundball the opposite way could score a run.
On Thursday, Baez pulled off a play that would be worthy of the Jackie Robinson or Ty Cobb baserunning reputations. Against the Pirates, Javy hit a routine grounder with a teammate on second. Rather than jog down the line like most players, Baez got himself in a classic “pickle,” that led to a series of events I can safely say you’ve probably never seen before on a baseball diamond. Even Little League. Watch:
Joe DiMaggio (56 games in 1941, Yankees) and Dominic DiMaggio (34 games in 1949, Red Sox).