After there were nine throughout the 2021 season, there hasn't been even one no-hitter to this point in the 2022 Major League Baseball season. So the league's batsmen have that going for them, which is nice.
Trouble is, that's about all they have going for them.
It's really not just you if it feels like it's been especially hard to watch hitters do their thing early in the 2022 season. They really are struggling. The 4.02 runs per game that teams are pushing across marks the lowest league-wide figure since 1981. Even worse, the league's .232 batting average is the lowest of all time.
Hitters right now have it even harder than hitters in 1968, who batted just .237 in baseball's final season with a 15-inch mound. They're likewise worse than they were at the outset of the '21 campaign, when hitters were batting just .236 through the season's first two months.
The obvious boogeyman this time last year was the sticky stuff that pitchers were using to get unnatural spin on their pitches. The league acted accordingly when it stepped up enforcement on banned substances in June, and it worked as hitters jacked up their average to .248 in the season's final four months.
As spin rates remain depressed in 2022, the sticky stuff ban still seems to be working. This naturally got us to poking around for other explanations for this season's early offensive outage, as well as for potential ways that the problem might be solved.
It's a Ball Thing
Though baseball's Launch Angle Revolution is ongoing, the balls themselves have apparently decided they no longer want any part of it.
At 43.4 percent, the league-wide rate of ground balls is tied with 2020 for the lowest on record since 2008. What's more, batted balls that check both the sweet spot (i.e., between 8 and 32 degrees off the bat) and hard-hit (i.e., 95 mph and above) boxes now account for 18.4 percent of all balls in play. That's the highest of the eight-year Statcast era.
And yet, the efforts that hitters are putting into hitting for power aren't being rewarded.
Hard-hit balls in the sweet spot are only traveling an average of 311 feet, or six fewer feet than in 2021.