I was comparing the 2011 season stats for one of my NL-only fantasy teams vs the league leaders in 2010, and I noticed there was a huge drop in home runs and runs batted in. In 2010 the league leader had 277 home runs and 1,014 RBI, while the leader in 2011 had 232 home runs and 929 RBI. In addition, there was an increase in stolen bases, as the top 3 teams in 2010 had a total of 437 SBs, while in 2011, the top 3 teams had 507 SBs.
So if you thought offense in your league was down in 2011, well you were right, and ESPN has the proof. ESPN published this article last week discussing how runs scored in MLB have fallen to a two decade low in 2011.
Teams averaged 4.28 runs per game this season, the lowest since 1992's 4.12 and down from a Steroids Era peak of 5.14 in 2000. And the home run average was down to 0.94 each team per game, also the lowest in 19 years and a sharp drop from 1.17 in 2000.
It wasn't just home run hitters who had a tough time, according to STATS LLC. The major league batting average of .255 was the lowest since 1989. On the flip side, the 3.94 ERA was a level last seen in 1992.
So how should fantasy owners react to this news in 2012 fantasy drafts? I think you have to draft offense early, which many of us do, but also draft the big home run hitters early as well. Stolen bases will be more plentiful, so you can draft some later in drafts since teams are moving to small ball with power and runs at a premium.