FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 file photo, New York Yankees' Andrew McCutchen reacts after striking out to end the seventh inning of a baseball game as Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen, left, heads off the field at Yankee Stadium in New York. The most-heard sound at major league ballparks this year was "Strike three!" Strikeouts will exceed hits over a full season for the first time in major league history. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

Whiff of offense: Ks top hits, lowest average since '72

September 27, 2018 - 2:37 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Strikeouts are likely to exceed hits over a full season for the first time in major league history. The .248 batting average has dropped to its lowest level since 1972, the year before the designated hitter. Lefty hitters have fared even worse, a .244 average that is their lowest average since 1968, before the pitcher's mound was lowered.

There were 39,902 strikeouts and 39,833 hits through Tuesday, and strikeouts are on track to set a record for the 11th consecutive season, surpassing last year's 40,104.

Innings per starting pitcher dropped from 5.89 in 2012 to 5.38 this year and pitches per start from 95 to 88 over the same period, according to Sports Info Solutions.

Pitchers per game for both teams rose from 7.68 to 8.34 over that span, according to Major League Baseball, with average fastball velocity increasing from 91.6 mph to 92.8 mph over the past six years, according to Sports Info.

Major League Baseball and the players' association say they will spend much of the offseason analyzing historic changes.

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