227. That’s how many home runs the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants combined for this year. They combined for 1,327 runs total. They made it to the playoffs on shutdown bullpens and bloop singles.
The Baltimore Orioles hit 211 home runs. The Los Angeles Angels scored 773 runs. They made it to the playoffs on flashy home runs and walk off hits, with pitching as an afterthought.
However, the Royals and Giants were the two teams to see World Series play, while Baltimore and L.A. sat at home watching. And while hardcore baseball fans enjoyed the World Series, the nation didn’t respond with much interest, as this year’s world series was the lowest rated for a seven game series in a very long time, partially due to the blowout factor, but partially due to the styles of play that each team used.
The pennant winners this year were the most boring winners you’re going to see in a while. Everything happened with small ball, bunts, bullpens and stolen bases. As a baseball fan, that’s a good thing. For someone who understands all the nuances of the game, it made it just as interesting, if not more interesting, than previous World Series’.
But for the rest of the world, the people that only tune in during October, it brought down interest. The casual fans want to see strikeouts from flamethrowers and then mammoth home runs. Which spikes a debate – what’s better for baseball?
The case for the bunt, steal and single approach is simple and more wholesome. It’s been the foundation of baseball since the nineteenth century. Traditionalists love it, and it gives small market teams big opportunities.
However, the home run approach has it’s moments. It obviously creates more excitement, and it gives fans who have a very basic knowledge of the game to experience the game’s most basic element: the long ball.
There’s no obvious solution or fix for this. Unfortunately, you can’t tell teams how to develop prospects or little leaguers to swing for the fences.
The decision remains in the hands of General Managers everywhere, and as the game evolves one way or the other, fans will too.