Every opportunity that doesn’t work out feels wasted. And in large part I think it’s because people don’t really know what normal is. Of course teams can’t convert every opportunity, but, it’s just moving a runner up 90 feet, right? It sounds like it should be easy. In a way, it’s just like bunting. You feel like everyone should be able to do it, but it’s surprisingly challenging to execute. It’s helpful to look at the league-wide numbers. It’s the only way to establish the proper context.
Used to be, baseball games featured more balls in play. And that might well be a good thing by itself. So many of those batted balls, however, were effectively useless. And it’s the useless batted balls that have been replaced by the strikeouts, in a sense. When there’s a runner on third and less than two out, a hitter in 2018 will find it challenging to drive the guy home. It’s been challenging all along.
Source: Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs
Another win for facts over narrative!