Is Hitting Becoming a Lost Art In MLB?

John GehanCorrespondent IMay 17, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 17:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the Chicago Cubs on April 17, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In this day and age, more and more teams seem to live and die by the home run.

Speedy guys will always bunt and turn singles into doubles—which is exciting don't get me wrong—but the actual art of hitting seems like it has been lost in the ever-changing game of baseball.

Guys like Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Babe Ruth all had a gift. They were hitters who were masters of their craft. The question is, are we losing that craft?

We all know the game of baseball has changed in recent history, and if you haven't noticed that, then you’re in denial. I am 21 years old and in my lifetime the game has already changed immensely.

Everyone loves seeing homerun after homerun. Especially with guys like Ryan Howard and Evan Longoria walking up to the plate with one thing in mind—hitting the ball as hard as they possibly can.

However, hitting for a career batting average over .300 is as rare as an inside the park home run these days.

In fact, only a measly two active players are in the top 25 in career batting average (with at least 5000 at bats) and they only rank 23 and 25.

What is even more telling is that there are only three active players in the top 50!

23. Ichiro Suzuki: .330

25. Todd Helton: .329

36. Vladimir Guerrero: .322

The guy who tops the all-time list is none other than Ty Cobb, who batted an amazing .367 in his 23 year MLB career. Imagine a guy keeping up an average that high for 23 years...I can't even wrap my mind around it!

Am I the only person who feels cheated? I feel cheated out of seeing actual skilled batsmen. I feel cheated in that the only records being broken are by guys who seem to have the advantage of steroids. I feel cheated that home run records seem to be broken more than wooden bats, but hitting for average seems to be lost in the translation of the "new MLB."

Are we losing America's favorite past time to the glitz and glamour of the long ball?

Are kids being taught the wrong fundamentals?

Are the pitchers that much better?

Well, I'll give you a quick answer to that question. No!

There is zero; I repeat zero active pitchers in the top 50 in career ERA.

Albert Pujols, however, has less than 300 at bats until he can be considered eligible for this elite list. Currently, he is batting .334 for his career, which would put him at the top of the list for active players and tied for 14th...all time.

Hopefully the young potential of the MLB can take a page out of Pujols' book, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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