Tuesday, April 14, 2009

MLB Opening Day Analysis: 2009 vs. 2002

Many of the old school baseball honks, still in denial of the widespread use of PED’s earlier this decade, would like to see some of this analysis.

Opening day home runs were up 18% in 2009 compared to 2002 while the number of strikeouts decreased 4%. The baseball establishment would likely point to this HR data as evidence that the players were not roiding out of their minds back in ’02. I beg to differ. The 15 games that made up opening day 2009 consisted of 40 home runs compared to 34 in 2002. The game with the most HR’s in ’09 was the Colorado v. Arizona game with 8 while in ‘02, the game with the most home runs was Minnesota and Kansas City with 5. Interesting to note that 47% of all opening games played in ’02 had at least three home runs hit compared with 40% in ’09. A contributing factor to increased home runs is the 7 new ballparks since 2002. The trend in new ballparks has been smaller, hitter-friendly parks where fans can see more home runs.

The baseball establishment would not like to see the decline in strikeouts. In 2002, there were 202 strikeouts in the 15 opening day games. In 2009, that total decreased to 193. In ’02, there were two games that had 20 strikeouts; in ’09, the highest strikeout total was 17. The lowest K total in ’09 was 6 compared to 9 in ’02. This data would lead one to conclude that PED’s benefited pitchers more than hitters.

While analyzing home run data is difficult because of the changes to stadiums, analyzing opening day strikeout totals can shed some light on what was going on back in the day. Opening day pits each team’s ace against each other and its power vs. power. From the pitcher’s perspective, they lost some power from ’02 to ’09.

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