Everyone knows by now that run-scoring is decreasing dramatically in baseball, and has been for awhile. A batting line we would have considered perhaps a bit above average ten years ago now makes Ben Zobrist a star.
Ben Lindbergh recently focused on how much of the downturn has to do with an enlarged strike zone. It probably also has something to do with an increased recognition and focus on defense in recent years. I have a theory that the proliferation of sinkers and cutters, along with the quality of the PITCHf/x data available to pitching coaches has made the average pitcher better than ever before.
Just yesterday though, friend-of-the-site Jason Hanselman chimed in with a very interesting observation over at his own Rays analysis site, Dock of the Rays.
Hanselman ties this idea in with the new aging curves we seem to be seeing in the post-steroid era (check out the research on these by Jeff Zimmerman):
When players are putting up obscene numbers over not just seasons, but over hyper-elongated careers then there is only one subset of teams that will benefit. All teams might reap the benefits of freak players for the first half dozen years of that player’s career, but once the player enters free agency only the hyper rich teams will even have a chance of acquiring these types of players. That is going to lead to inherently less parity in the game as the finite supply of players congregate to the richest teams.
With players following a more traditional aging curve it’s not that you will see rich teams not acquiring these players, but these players won’t be as productive for their new teams making them riskier propositions.
After all, MLB didn’t care about guys juicing until teams started giving out 10 year, 9-figure deals to a dozen or more players.
There's more there, so go read it.
The bottom line is that while the new environment may not be easy on the eyes of fans raised on the steroid era, and certainly bad for the Yankees and the Red Sox of the world, it's good for the little guy.