1968 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1968 throughout the world.

The Year of the Pitcher

In Major League Baseball, the trend throughout the 1960s was of increased pitching dominance.[1][2] After the record home run year by Roger Maris in 1961, the major leagues increased the size of the strike zone from the top of the batter's shoulders to the bottom of his knees.[3] A significant "power shortage" culminated in 1968, with far fewer runs scored than in the early 1960s.[1]

Pitchers including Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals and Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers dominated hitters, producing 339 shutouts in 1968, almost double the number of shutouts thrown in 1962.[1] Individually, Gibson set a modern earned run average record of 1.12, the lowest in 54 years, and set a World Series record of 17 strikeouts in Game 1. McLain won 31 regular season games, the only player to reach the 30 win milestone since Dizzy Dean in 1934.[4] Mickey Lolich won three complete games in the World Series, the last player as of 2015 to do so. Luis Tiant of the Cleveland Indians had the American League's lowest ERA at 1.60 and allowed a batting average of only .168, a major league record.[1] Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a record 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, and Catfish Hunter of the Oakland Athletics was the first American League pitcher to record a perfect game since Don Larsen in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series during the 1968 season.[1]

Hitting was anemic as Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox would be the only American League hitter to finish the season with a batting average higher than .300.[1] Yastrzemski's batting average of .301 was the lowest batting average of any league batting champion. The American League's collective slugging average of .340 remains the lowest since 1915 (when the game was still in the so-called dead-ball era), while the collective batting average of .231 is the all-time lowest. As a result of the dropping offensive statistics, Major League Baseball Rules Committee took steps to reduce the advantage held by pitchers by lowering the height of the pitchers mound from 15 inches to 10 inches, and by reducing the size of the strike zone for the 1969 season.[5] 1969 batting averages climbed back to their historical averages and never again would pitching have as large a statistical average over batting in the major leagues.

1968 was the final year when baseball had no divisions within the two leagues, with the only post-season competition being the World Series itself. Four expansion teams would join baseball for the season following in 1969. This was also the first season that the Athletics franchise played in Oakland, California, after their departure from Kansas City, Missouri.


Major League Baseball

Other champions

Awards and honors

MLB statistical leaders

  American League National League
Type Name Stat Name Stat
AVG Carl Yastrzemski BOS .301 Pete Rose CIN .335
HR Frank Howard WAS 44 Willie McCovey SF 36
RBI Ken Harrelson BOS 109 Willie McCovey SF 105
Wins Denny McLain DET 31 Juan Marichal SF 26
ERA Luis Tiant CLE 1.60 Bob Gibson STL 1.12
Ks Sam McDowell CLE 283 Bob Gibson STL 268
SB Bert Campaneris OAK 62 Lou Brock STL 62

Major league baseball final standings

American League final standings

American League
Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
Detroit Tigers 103 59 .636
Baltimore Orioles 91 71 .562 12
Cleveland Indians 86 75 .534 16.5
Boston Red Sox 86 76 .531 17
New York Yankees 83 79 .512 20
Oakland Athletics 82 80 .506 21
Minnesota Twins 79 83 .488 24
California Angels 67 95 .414 36
Chicago White Sox 67 95 .414 36
Washington Senators 65 96 .404 37.5

National League final standings

National League
Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
St. Louis Cardinals 97 65 .599
San Francisco Giants 88 74 .543 9
Chicago Cubs 84 78 .519 13
Cincinnati Reds 83 79 .512 14
Atlanta Braves 81 81 .500 16
Pittsburgh Pirates 80 82 .494 17
Los Angeles Dodgers 76 86 .469 21
Philadelphia Phillies 76 86 .469 21
New York Mets 73 89 .451 24
Houston Astros 72 90 .444 25
















  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "1968: Year of the Pitcher". thisgreatgame.com. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  2. Rushin, Steve (July 19, 1993). "The Season Of High Heat". Sports Illustrated: 1. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  3. "Expanded strike zone unveiled". The Press-Courier. Associated Press. March 8, 1963. p. 9. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  4. "Denny McLain becomes a 30-game winner". history.com. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  5. "McLain Says Lower Mound Will Take Toll of Pitchers". The Telegraph-Herald. Associated Press. January 14, 1969. p. 13. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
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