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The big league batting average dropped to its lowest level

NEW YORK (AP) —  since 1972 , strikeouts topped hits for the first time and defensive shifts increased by another 30 percent while innings and pitches per starting pitcher dropped again in a another baseball season of rapid change.The batting average fell seven points to .248 in the regular season that ended Monday, down from a Steroids Era peak of .271 in 1999.Strikeouts set a record for the 11th straight year, increasing by 1,103 to 41,207, and topped hits (41,019) for the first time in big league history. Hits led by 2,111 last year and by 13,418 in 2006.Home runs dropped from a record 6,105 to 5,585 but was the fourth-highest total behind last year, 2000 and 2016.In a game transformed by teams’ use of advanced analytics, defensive shifts on balls in play rose to 34,673 from 26,705, according to Sports Info Solutions. There were just 6 Lou Gehrig Jersey ,882 as recently as 2013 and 17,826 in 2015.Twenty-six of the 30 teams increased use of shifts, with Detroit, Kansas City, the New York Mets, Philadelphia and St. Louis doubling. Only the Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee, Texas and San Diego declined, but the Brewers had the fifth highest overall total.Innings per starting pitcher dropped to 5.36 from 5.51 last year and 5.89 in 2012, and average pitches per start fell to 88 from 92 in 2017 and 95 in 2012. Relievers per team per game rose to 3.4 from 3.2 last year and 3.0 in 2012.As a result, complete games set a record low for the fourth straight year at 42, down from 59 last season and 104 in 2015. Complete game shutouts dropped from 27 to 19, the fewest since 1874, when there were just eight teams. There were 65 shutouts as recently as 2014.There were 95 starts of one inning or fewer, more than double the 38 in 2017, and 244 of two innings or fewer , up from 133. Use of an “opener” reliever instead of a starter by Tampa Bay in many games was a factor, and some other teams started to copy the innovation.Sacrifice bunts dropped from 925 to 823, the fewest since a record-low 806 in 1900, the last season with eight teams. Toronto had a record-low five, while Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels had six apiece and Boston seven. There were 1,667 as recently as 2011 and no club dropped below double digits until Texas had nine in 2005. No team had fewer than 50 in 1972.Nine-inning games averaged 3:00:44, down from 3:05:11 for last season, helped by new restrictions that cut mound visits without pitching changes to an average of 4.01 from 7.41.There were 1,400 video reviews, an increase of four, and overturned calls rose by six, from 47.3 percent to 47.6 percent, and the average time of reviews dropped five seconds to 1:23.Disabled list placements rose from 702 to 737. There were 563 in 2016, the last season before the primary disabled list switched from 15 days to 10. Mike Moustakas' time in Kansas City has come to an end just days before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline. The Milwaukee Brewers announced Saturdaythat they have acquired the 29-year-old from the Royals in exchange for minor leaguers Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez.Jeffrey Flanagan of first reported the news.Moustakas had been a member of the Kansas City organization since the Royals took him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft. He leaves town having piled up a .251 batting average, 139 home runsand 441RBI in 934 games in his seven-plus seasons with the Royals andrankingeighthin franchise history in long balls.When it drafted Moustakas, Kansas City was trying to break a playoff drought that had lasted more than two decades. It took some time Mickey Mantle Jersey , but the core of Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain eventually snapped it in 2014. One year later, they helped raise the club's second World Series banner.Unfortunately for Royals fans, the core became too expensive to keep. Cain and Hosmer left in free agency during the offseason, while Moustakas eventually returned after having a tough time on the open market. He turned down a $17.4 million qualifying offer at the beginning of the offseason, according to Jason Beck of, and wound up signing a one-year, $6.5 million deal with a mutual option for 2019.Moustakas will now change uniforms for the first time in his career and have the opportunity to jump right into a pennant race. With six home runs in 31 career postseason games, he has proved he can come through in big moments.Milwaukee boldly boosted its outfield during the offseason by acquiring Christian Yelich and Cain. While those moves helped establish the Brewers as contenders, they find themselves in a battle in the National League Central.They hope adding an All-Star and a champion like Moustakas can put them over the top.Travis Shaw (19home runs) has provided pop at the hot corner, but Moustakas is a more established player. The Brewers can shift Shaw to second to give themselves one of the most powerful infields in baseball, with Moustakas and first baseman Jesus Aguilar (25 home runs) also bringing the lumber. They could use Shaw at first and in the outfield as well.Milwaukee was in the Manny Machado sweepstakes before the Baltimore Orioles shipped the All-Star to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although Machado was the prize of the deadline, Moustakas can be a game-changer as well.

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