The play it every October, Kirk Gibson pumping his arm as he limped around the bases. It's one of the most famous playoff home runs of all time. It's baseball version of the little train that could.
The odd thing is it came in a year that saw home runs per game drop by 28% and runs in general to fall by 12. 1988 was the start of a trough that came between the two biggest crests in home runs in baseball history. They were 1985-87 and 1993-2004. Gibson was the poster boy for the homer dry-up. He won the 1988 MVP with just 25 home runs and just 76 RBI, a pittance for production today.
Well, 2005 is rounding into another 1988. MLB is averaging under one homer per game for the first time since 1993. Home runs per game are down 12% this year, the largest decrease since 1988.
Runs in general are down as well, 7% per game. In fact, baseball has not averaged under four and one-half runs (4.49 so far this year) since 1992.
Steroids are usually mentioned as the main culprit. However, we have to remember that just about one-fifth of the season is over. Besides other factors like the lack of new stadiums in 2005 (RFK doesn't count), the fact that there hasn't been any expansion in over five years, etc.
We'll have to watch the numbers as the season progresses, but here's how 2005 compares to the last 25 years: