On Thursday at Tropicana Field, James Shields and CC Sabathia squared off for their second duel of the 2011 season. After turning in an eight-inning complete game on June 10 and still losing to Sabathia and the New York Yankees, Shields evened the score giving up just one run in 7 2/3 innings on 117 pitches for a Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 win. This time around it was Sabathia who posted the eight-inning complete game in a loss. Shields now has held the mighty Yankees offense to just one earned run in his past 15 2/3 against them. Shields lowered his ERA on the year to 2.77. Sabathia lowered his to 2.62.
In Anaheim on Thursday, Jered Weaver pitched seven-plus shutout innings and the Los Angeles Angels needed only two hits and an unearned run to down the Texas Rangers, 1-0. Rangers’ starter C.J. Wilson was exceptional in a losing effort. Wilson carried a no-hitter into the fifth until Mark Trumbo singled. The only other Angel to get a hit was Maicer Izturis with a two-out double to left field in the eighth. Weaver lowered his ERA to a ridiculous 1.81 and Wilson lowered his 2.94.
2011 is the year of the pitcher. The events above are just two examples of how pitching has dominated this season. When you consider that many of the dominant pitching performances such as above are occurring in the American League, that makes the numbers being put up all that more impressive.
Looking back at the first half of this season prior to the All-Star break, there has been an average of 8.4 runs per game scored in MLB games this year, the lowest since 1992. MLB games have averaged 1.8 HRs per game on the year, the lowest since 1993. MLB players have a combined BA of .253 on the year, the lowest since 1972 and are only working an average 6.2 walks per game, also the lowest since 1972.
So what’s the reason for this sudden lack of offensive production? Did MLB do something to deaden the ball? Are all the new ballparks popping up around the nation helping the pitchers more than the hitters? Has the scrutinizing and implementation of technology in evaluating umpires caused the umpiring to be more pitcher friendly? Is it just happenstance?
While any or all of these influences may be contributing factors, the reality is that you don’t have to look any further than the stopping / reduction in the use of PED’s having more of an effect on hitters than pitchers? The fact that there has been such a dramatic rise in oblique injuries this year can be directly attributed to the fact that players are flocking the legal dietary supplement creatine to try and help them get that physical edge that had while using PED’s. The fact that hitters feel they need to use creatine even though creatine users in large part are breaking down in epidemic proportions says that hitters feel they have lost the edge they had and are trying to do what they can to get it back.
Note: Pitchers are fighting fire with fire as they are taking creatine and consequently breaking down as well.
On June 15th I published the following:
Is MLB actually causing injuries as a matter of policy? Have you noticed all the oblique injuries this year? Oblique strains are all the rage. It appears that rise in oblique strains across MLB is most likely caused by the legal dietary supplement creatine. As it turns out, creatine adds water molecules to muscle fibers, which can cause those fibers to separate. This makes for easier muscle tears and slows the repair process. For a long time athletes went away from creatine because of these side effects when they could use anabolics and HGH. Now that MLB has cracked down on PED’s, players have gone back to creatine and thus the apparent oblique strain epidemic. So MLB has banned PEDs, which in turn has caused oblique injuries. Interesting.
No PED’s, no offensive production and no HR’s. Assuming that it is in fact true that “Chicks dig the long ball,” I’m guessing that chicks don’t like creatine very much….
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The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.