Draft Strategy: More data that offense is trending south

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As a follow up to his article on the Disappearing 30 home run hitter in baseball, Ray details the spiraling number of hitters who score 80 runs and drive in 80 runs. The drop is startling.

I have been writing about starting pitchers quite a bit this offseason, as I think we could see more starting pitchers drafted in the early rounds of drafts than ever. Offense is down quite a bit over the last decade and starting pitchers are becoming more and more dominant, and the trend is for more dominance I believe.

A few days ago, I wrote about the decline in the number of 30 home run hitters in major league baseball. Today, I am going to give more evidence that offense is down, and why you might want to consider drafting ace starters in the EARLY rounds of drafts this season. Now this strategy really goes against my personal beliefs on how to construct a championship fantasy team, as I have always been in the camp of drafting hitting, hitting and more hitting. That may change this season.

Here's why. In addition to the decline in power, and the 30 home run hitter, we have seen the number of hitters who score 80 runs and drive in 80 runs decline over the last few years. I am not sure if it is/was a popular strategy to target these types of hitters, but it seemed every time I read a chat at other sites, or even here at Fake Teams, people were discussing hitters that score 80 runs and drive in 80 runs, thus the reason why I used those two data points.

This led me to FanGraphs to see if the number of hitters who both score and drive in 80 runs was also on the decline. Here is the data for hitters who 1) scored 80 runs, 2) drove in 80 runs and 3) both scored and drove in 80 runs, for the ten year period 2004 - 2013. The 80-80 column in the table below represents the number of hitters who both scored 80 runs and drove in 80 runs each year.

Year

80-80

80 runs

80 RBI

2004

56

88

77

2005

40

70

62

2006

65

98

83

2007

59

93

79

2008

42

76

69

2009

43

75

73

2010

37

66

60

2011

36

58

59

2012

33

61

56

2013

23

49

47

Below is a graph of the number of hitters who both scored/drove in 80 runs over the last 10 years:

80-80_graph_medium

Quite ominous, eh? As you can see, in this 10 year period, offense peaked in 2006 and started a slow drop until recently. The number of hitters that provided 80 runs and 80 RBI for fantasy owners has been cut from a high of 65 in 2006 to just 23 last season. With run production down over the past few seasons, it's becoming harder and harder to draft hitting over pitching and I think 2014 might be the year where you see more starting pitchers taken in the first round, and early rounds, than ever before.

Maybe 2014 brings a change in the downward trend in offense, but I can't help but think that the effort by the MLBPA and MLB to remove PEDs from the game has something to do with the drop in offense over the past few seasons.

Let's hear your thought on the data presented here. Tomorrow I will detail some of the early ADP trends for starting pitchers.

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