Major League Baseball has achieved a tremendous amount of parity. Entering tonight’s action, 16 of the 30 clubs are at .500 or above with five others within four games of breaking even.
According to the latest projected standings from Fangraphs, just four teams are expected to break the 90-win plateau: Detroit Tigers (91), San Francisco Giants (91), Oakland Athletics (90) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (90). That would be the lowest number of teams hitting the mark since the 1995 season when just the Cleveland Indians (100 wins) and Atlanta Braves (90) paced the league.
Revenue sharing is part of the equation — low-revenue clubs can spend more aggressively on amateur talent and keep their younger stars long-term — but a shift towards pitching and defense is also a contributing factor.
Across MLB, teams are averaging 4.16 runs per game this season, with most teams playing a third of their season. In 2013 teams averaged 4.17 runs per game and the year before that 4.32, so there is clearly a downward trend in offense over the past 20 years.
That downturn could be a result of decreasing power over the years. Teams are averaging .392 slugging this season which is the lowest mark since 1992 (.377).
One team that could join the ranks of 90-win teams this season are the Atlanta Braves. They are just four games behind the pace and are projected to win 58 games the rest of the way. However, they have the lowest average on balls in play in the league (.273). If that rises closer to league average (.297) or beyond they could score more than the 4.06 runs per game Fangraphs projects and make a run at 90 wins or more.