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Where Have All The Hitting Streaks Gone


While baseball is nowhere close to the offensive explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s, it does appear that the decline in offense from the last few years has finally started to level off. 50 home run seasons aren’t nearly as common as they used to be, but pitchers are slightly less dominant in 2015 as they were in 2014.  Through games of August 5, teams are scoring 4.14 runs per game this year, compared to 4.07 all of last year.  It’s difficult to notice such a small increase on a daily basis, but most fans are happy that at least a few more runs are crossing the plate each game.

That’s not to say there haven’t been any notable pitching accomplishments this year.  Starting in June Zack Greinke flirted with Orel Hershiser’s consecutive scoreless innings streak of 59 innings before finally allowing a run on July 26 after previously throwing 45.2 scoreless innings, good enough for sixth all time. Earlier in the season teammate Clayton Kershaw threw 41 scoreless innings.

And while these pitching streaks have been noteworthy this year, one thing that’s been curiously missing from this season is hitting streaks.  Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak is generally considered one of the safest records in baseball. However, this year players have come nowhere close to this streak (or even any recent noteworthy hitting streak).

Through early August the longest hitting streak this year comes from the recently traded Troy Tulowitzki, who reached 21 games in June and July while still playing for the Rockies.  Aside from Jason Kipnis’s 20 game streak in July, there have been no other hit streaks longer than 20 games yet this season.

While there is still about one third of the season left to play, it looks like 2015 is shaping up to have fewer hitting streaks than usual, even when compared to more recent, offense-starved seasons. While inevitably there will be more hitting streaks over the rest of the season, as of right now there have been less than half as many hitting streaks of 15 or more games as there were just three seasons ago (back when teams were scoring a whopping 4.32 runs per game): 

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Of course, 15 game hitting streaks aren’t exactly headline-writing material and will barely get much more than a mention in a game’s press notes.  But even when being more stringent in what constitutes a hitting streak (let’s go with 20+ games), 2015 is still not a banner year by any means:

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While it is true that just a single 20 game hitting streak will match last year’s total, this year (and the past couple) are down by historical standards.  And raising the bar one more time to 25+ games still doesn’t change the story:

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If the current count of zero holds it will be the first season since 2010 and just the second since 2001 in which no one hit in 25 or more consecutive games.

While there is of course a lot of baseball to be played, it appears that 2015 will simply not be a banner year for hitting streaks. Historically speaking, hitting streaks are much less likely to start late in the season.  This includes streaks that started in one season and carried over to the following year, but that’s hard to maintain following an offseason. Furthermore, with expanded rosters, players are more likely to be removed from a game than earlier in the season, and they’re more likely to face a reliever and have a disadvantage on the matchup, again because of expanded rosters.

Starting Month of 15+ Games Hitting Streaks, 1995-2014

March/April

105

May

167

June

138

July

123

August

125

September/October

97

Hitting streaks are fun to follow for all baseball fans, not just fans of the player with the streak.  Though with the Twitterverse focusing on a player’s every action, as well as managers throwing many more specialized relievers on the hill than in years past, it’s understandable that lengthy hitting streaks are becoming a thing of the past.

Here are the numbers:

Season 15+ Games 20+ Games 25+ Games
1995 34 4 0
1996 37 13 3
1997 39 13 4
1998 38 8 3
1999 52 13 6
2000 42 10 1
2001 38 7 0
2002 44 7 3
2003 43 14 4
2004 37 8 2
2005 32 10 3
2006 36 10 5
2007 46 13 3
2008 40 5 1
2009 40 10 4
2010 26 5 0
2011 38 10 4
2012 33 9 2
2013 31 5 3
2014 29 3 1
2015 16 2 0

 



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