The following are the baseball events of the year 1968 throughout the world.
|Years in baseball|
1968 in sports
In Major League Baseball, the trend throughout the 1960s was of increased pitching dominance. 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. A significant "power shortage" culminated in 1968, with far fewer runs scored than in the early 1960s.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
|American League||National League|
|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|
American League final standings
National League final standings