Touch 'Em All: As season ends, numbers roll in

A season that ended with one of the most thrilling nights in major- league history (at least if you're not a fan of the Red Sox or Braves) also ended with some good numbers for Major League Baseball: Average attendance rose by about half of 1 percent this year, ending three straight seasons of drops.

That may not seem like a lot, but the overall attendance of 73,425,568 was the fifth-highest in MLB history.

At the top were the Phillies, who led the leagues for the first time, drawing 3,680,718 fans to Citizens Bank Park.

Cleveland had the biggest percentage increase, up 31 percent. Wild-card wonders Tampa Bay, playing in that warehouse Tropicana Field, dropped the most: 19 percent.

   

Pitching beats hitting

Either the pitchers are getting better or the hitters are lacking that, uh, certain something, but teams averaged 4.28 runs per game this season, the lowest since 1992's 4.12 and down from a peak of 5.14 in 2000. The home-run average was down to 0.94 each team per game, also the lowest in 19 years.

According to Stats LLC, the batting average of .255 was the lowest since 1989, while the 3.94 ERA was a level last seen in 1992.

 

Highs and lows

Speaking of which, when the Chicago White Sox gave Adam Dunn a four-year $56 million deal to be their DH, they didn't expect this: a .159 average, 11 homers, 42 RBIs, and 177 strikeouts (an improvement over his major-league record of 190, set with the Reds seven years ago today). Only his 496 plate appearances - not enough - kept him out of the record books for the lowest average in major-league history.

For the first time in his major-league career, the Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki failed to reach 200 hits - finishing with 184 - and he hit a career-worst .272, with a career-high 69 strikeouts.

The Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro, though, finished as the youngest player - at 21 years, 188 days - to lead the NL, with 207 hits.

He becomes just the fifth major-league player since 1940 to collect at least 200 hits at 21 or younger (according to the Elias Sports Bureau), joining Alex Rodriguez (215, in 1996), Vada Pinson (205, in 1959), Garry Templeton (200, in 1977), and Al Kaline (200, in 1955).

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Dodgers infielder Eugenio Velez, who broke a 102-year-old major-league record for a non-pitcher by going hitless in his final 46 at-bats.

When Velez, whose last hit was in May 2010, grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth against Arizona on Wednesday, he broke a record set by the Pittsburgh Pirates' Bill Bergen in 1909, and equaled by Dave Campbell with San Diego and St. Louis in 1973 and then by the Milwaukee Brewers' Craig Counsell this season.

 

 


Contact staff writer Michael Harrington at mharrington@phillynews.com.

This article contains information from Inquirer wire services.