Season of the Slump: Baseball keeps swinging and missing

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Colorado Rockies' Charlie Blackmon heads back to the dugout after striking out against Houston Astros starting pitcher Luis Garcia during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

NEW YORK – Don Mattingly starred in the action-packed 1980s.

Now the Miami Marlins manager, Donnie Baseball worries about a record lack of hits -- and not just from his team’s bats.

“I don’t think it’s cyclical at this point,” he said. “There’s so much swing and miss, it’s kind of off the charts. I think it’s something that we have to address.”

It’s the Season of the Slump, even for All-Stars like Marcell Ozuna (.202), Charlie Blackmon (.184) and Francisco Lindor (.189). Miguel Cabrera, the only Triple Crown winner in a half-century, is batting .140.

Major league batters are hitting just .232 overall through April, down from .252 two years ago and under the record low of .237 set in the infamous 1968 season that resulted in a lower pitcher’s mound.

The Mendoza line may not mean what it used to.

Strikeouts have averaged 9.06 per team per game, on pace to set a record for the 13th consecutive full season — up from 8.81 two years ago and nearly double the 4.77 in 1979. Strikeouts already are 1,092 ahead of hits, just three years after exceeding hits for the first time over a full season.

Hits are averaging a record-low 7.63 after fluctuating from 8 to 10 from 1937 through last year, excepting 1968′s dip to a then-alarming 7.91.