1901-1919 -- Deadball ("modern")These six eras have distinctive characters, which are captured in the following table:
1920-1941 -- Lively Ball I
1942-1946 -- Wartime Lull
1947-1961 -- Lively Ball II
1962-1993 -- High Plateau
1994-2xxx -- Juiced Player
|Change from 1901-1919|
|Runs per||HR per||Add'l runs||Add'l HR||Runs per|
|Era||# Teams||game||game||per game||per game||add'l HR|
|* 2 expansion teams in 1961|
|** 2 expansion teams in 1962; 4 in 1969; 2 in 1977; 2 in 1993|
|*** 2 expansion teams in 1998|
Lively Ball Era I was the most dynamic era to date. There were more home runs than in the Deadball era, to be sure, but it is evident that much of the "small ball" action of the Deadball era carried over into Lively Ball I.
The Wartime Lull was just that. There were more home runs than in the Deadball era, but every home run netted only 0.52 runs on the scoreboard. Think of batters reaching base and mostly waiting around for a home run to be hit, usually to no avail.
The next two eras -- Lively Ball II and High Plateau -- saw a resurgence of home-run hitting, but run production didn't return to the level of Lively Ball II. Again, there was a lot of waiting around for home runs, usually to no avail.
The era of the Juiced Player rivals (but falls short of) the dynamism of Lively Ball I. Yes, a lot more home runs per game (what would you expect?), but not quite the same number of runs per game.
I have always had the impression that baseball in the 1920s and 1930s was baseball at its exciting best: power added to the "small ball" wiles of the Deadball era. The numbers seem to confirm that impression.
The runs-per-game figures for the "old 16" teams -- the franchises in existence from 1901 through 1960 -- suggest that those teams have done better than the expansion upstarts. In fact, for the Juiced Player era (1994-2009), the "old 16" have a W-L record of .512.
But not all of the "old 16" have fared well. Here are the W-L rankings of the "old 16" for the period 1994-2009:
|Rank (of 30)||Team||G||W||L||W-L%|
"Old 16" teams occupy the top five spots and 10 of the top 15 spots. But Baltimore (13 straight losing seasons, 1998-2010), Detroit (12 straight losing seasons, 1994-2005), and Pittsburgh (18 straight losing seasons, 1993-2010) have turned in especially embarrassing performances.