As for strikeouts, in 2006, there were 31,655. Just as hits have continuously gone down, strikeouts have gone up almost every single year since 2006. There were 36,426 in 2012.
If that doesn't do anything for you, consider the fact that of the 23 perfect games (meaning no one on the opposing team even reaches first base) thrown by pitchers in major league history, 17 of them happened between 1880 and 2004. That's 124 years. Perfect games used to come around with the frequency of visible comets in the night sky.
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Now, ask me how many perfect games there have been since 2006. Six! And when I say "since 2006" what I actually mean is "since 2009." There were two in 2010 alone, which seemed mighty impressive until there were three in 2012. At that pace, after 124 years there will have been 186 perfect games thrown. What in the motherfuck is happening?
The explanation is pretty simple and obvious. Hitting a major league pitch is something the majority of Americans can't do at their most awake and alert. Position players take the field every single day, which is naturally going to tire out any athlete (especially if you routinely spend the night before games getting hammered). For decades, players have been able to fight that fatigue with amphetamines. Sure, they won't help you hit the ball harder, but if those pills are the difference between mentally alert or tired as hell, their benefit at the plate is undeniable. Hitters aren't less productive because they can't take steroids anymore, they're less productive because they can barely stay awake.
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Now they know how we feel!
Pitchers, on the other hand, generally get lots of rest between appearances, making the energy boost from amphetamines less helpful or necessary. For the everyday player though, losing that amphetamine boost has been a disaster. Oh, and in case you're wondering, there were 5,386 home runs in 2006. In 2012, just 4,934.
Coincidentally, since amphetamines were banned, the rate of diagnosis for ADHD in baseball has skyrocketed to twice the national average, resulting in hundreds of players each year receiving exemptions to take drugs like Adderall, which, of course, are basically amphetamines. Imagine that.
So what does all this mean? Well, if amphetamines really do have the impact on hitting that the statistics seem to indicate, and if the steroid era really didn't start until sometime in the '90s, doesn't every record set when hitters had the benefit of using amphetamines but pitchers didn't have the benefit of using steroids deserve the same asterisk we're so eager to affix to the steroid-era records? If amphetamines have really been around for seven or eight decades like Bud Selig says, that covers everything from Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak to Pete Rose's all time hits record and everything in between.
Steroids didn't make baseball a dirty game. It's just a lot easier to write off the past two decades of professional baseball history as tainted when the alternative is admitting that baseball has always been a dirty game.
Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.