Offense Is Down In 2012. Why?

Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants throws his bat to the ground after striking out against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The Giants defeated the Rockies 4-2. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

It's no mirage -- offensive production is down in 2012, compared to a similar number of games in 2011. Why is this happening?

Offense is down in 2012. Again.

The guys at High Heat Stats produced this study comparing 2012 offense to the same number of games in 2011. The numbers in that link are through Wednesday's games -- runs, home runs, doubles, walks, batting average and slugging percentage are down; strikeouts are up.

Thursday's games add to the trend. (Ignore that 10-9 Twins/Angels game, please.) We had one shutout Thursday, and other games had scores of 3-1, 3-1, 3-2, 3-2 and 4-2.

Granted, we are talking about a still-small sample size. All teams have played between five and seven games. Yet, we have further evidence that pitchers have taken charge: Through an identical length of the season in 2011, there had been seven shutout games, just one of them by a 1-0 score.

This year, there have already been 15 shutouts, and four of them 1-0.

Why is this happening? Is it cool early-season weather?

Not likely. 2011 saw some of the worst-ever weather for early-season baseball; by this point last season, seven games had been postponed, compared to just one in 2012. Also, several cold-weather teams (Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Royals) had not played a home game through Thursday.

Also through Thursday, 37 starting pitchers have ERAs under 2.00, including 10 who have made two starts. Could this be the beginning of a trend? If so, watch for this, as High Heat Stats pointed out:

If run scoring remains this low for the entire season, it will be the lowest since 1981 (strike-shortened) and 1976 (full-season).

I honestly don't have an answer here. The comment section in the High Heat Stats post has some suggestions, but no definitive answers either. What do you think? Vote in the poll, and leave your thoughts in the comments.

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