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Key Highlights:

  • Home runs are at the lowest rate since 2015
  • Batters are hitting .240, the worst mark since 1968
  • OPS & Slugging Percentage are also at their lowest marks in more than 30 years

Note: all data sourced from Baseball Reference on May 1, 2024


Just over one month into the 2024 MLB season, a few interesting trends have started to emerge. Using data from Baseball Reference, the MLB analysts at SportsCasting has made a few key observations that indicate batters are struggling more than ever in 2024

Most baseball fans have noticed the lack of power and extra-base hits in the early part of the regular season. While power tends to pick up during the summer months, home runs, OPS, and slugging percentage are currently sitting at their lowest marks in over a decade.

Let’s unwrap some of the early season trends in the MLB through the first 30-plus games.

MLB Home Runs Are At Lowest Rate Since 2015

Average Home Runs Per Game

There have been about 904 MLB games played already this year but baseball fans may have noticed that the ball hasn’t been flying out of the park as often this season.

That’s because home runs are actually down by 15% compared to last year.

In 2023, MLB teams hit 1.21 home runs per game, but that mark has dipped to just 1.02, the lowest mark since 2015, which was prior to the most recent juiced ball era.

The last time home runs dipped below 1.00 per game came in 2014 when teams hit just 0.86 homers per contest.

MLB Batters Are Hitting .240, The Worst Mark Since 1968

MLB Batting Average by Season

We’re only about one-fifth into the 162-game season, so there’s no need to panic, but MLB hitters are batting just .240 in the early going. For reference, last season MLB teams hit .248. That’s a drop of more than 3%.

There have only been three MLB seasons in which hitters batted for a lower average and two of those came before 1920, during the league’s “Dead Ball Era.” You’d have to go all the way back to 1968 to find the last time MLB hitters were stymied at the plate to this degree.

That year, the league hit just .237, the lowest batting average of all-time.

If hitting doesn’t pick up, it will be the first time since 1969 that the MLB finished with a league-wide batting average of less than .250 for five consecutive seasons.

Worst Batting Average Seasons In MLB History
Rank Year Batting Average
1 1968 0.237
2 1888 0.239
3 1908 0.239
4 2024 0.240
5 1967 0.242
6 1884 0.243
7 2022 0.243
8 1885 0.244
9 1909 0.244
10 1972 0.244

 

OPS, Slugging At Lowest Marks In More Than 30 Years

Home runs aren’t the only culprit when it comes to the lack of power at the plate.

Doubles are also reaching historic lows. At just 1.54 per game, two-base hits haven’t been this infrequent since 1991 and you’ll have to go back even further (1989) to find when they’ve dropped below that mark (1.50).

As a result, OPS and slugging percentages have dropped to their lowest marks in over 30 years.

At .699, OPS hasn’t been this dismal on a league-wide basis since the 1989 season. Meanwhile, slugging percentages (.385) also haven’t been this low since 1992.

And while strikeouts are down by 1.6% compared to last year, 2024 still ranks among the top six seasons with the most strikeouts at 8.47 Ks per game.

Runs Scored Down By 5.5% Compared To 2023

Predictably, the lack of power and overall hitting has led to a drop in runs.

Through the first 33 games, runs scored haved dropped by 5.5%. MLB teams are averaging just 4.38 runs per game, down from 4.62 runs per game in 2023.

The last time that scoring was this low came in the 2015 season when MLB teams averaged just 4.25 runs per game.

Full Data Set:
https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/majors/bat.shtml