Major League Baseball's popularity among younger American sports fans has declined in recent years, as the league's current product -- which consists of strikeouts, dead time, and three true outcomes -- isn't captivating audiences. And to make matters even worse, MLB's experimentation and inconsistencies with the balls used during 2022 games have caused a glaring lack of offense.
So far this season, the leaguewide batting average of .234 happens to be as low as it's ever been in history. Baseball's second-worst mark (.237) came in 1968, better known as the "Year of the Pitcher." Teams averaged 4.0 runs per game in April -- the lowest average for a month since 1981 -- and sabermetric stats like expected batting average (xBA) and expected slugging (xSLG) have also dipped. Despite the league's large supply of superstar players, the game faces an identity crisis. And Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Kaat is bothered by it.
"I get remarks a lot these days, 'Oh, if you pitched today, you'd probably be in that $30 million per year category.' I was happy I played in the era I played in," Kaat told The DA Show on Thursday. "I really enjoyed the art of the game more then. Expansion, wild cards, and everything like that, has diluted the quality of the game. The players today are more talented than we ever were -- I noticed that first when Andy Pettitte came up [in 1995] and I was doing Yankee games.
"He could do things at 22 that I knew I couldn't. If you could imagine today -- if there were just two leagues of eight teams -- the quality by getting the best of the best players out there, we wouldn't have 15-man pitching staffs and six pitchers trying to get through a game. The game doesn't have the appeal that it did, the charm. Yet, these players are the best ever, talent-wise. It's a shame that we've turned them into science projects."
The entire MLB conversation between Kaat and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.