MLB-OPENING DAY: It’s a New Era
(AP) — Beyond all the shifts, analytics and social media outreach, here's the best way to tell Major League Baseball has zoomed into a new era: There's not a single active player left from the 20th century.
The Elias Sports Bureau says Adrian Beltre and Bartolo Colon were the last. And with all 30 teams set to play Thursday — from Bryce Harper's home debut at Citizens Bank Park to Mookie Betts and the champion Boston Red Sox visiting Seattle — this year MLB becomes the first of the four major sports without someone still around who played in the 1900s.
And there's evidence of change in the game itself. The complete game is nearly completely gone from baseball. Shutouts are vanishing, too.
The numbers are striking.
Go back to 1978, and there were more than 1,000 complete games in the majors. Move to 2003, and the total was about 200. In 2018, though, there were only 42 — the lowest total in the sport's history, according to Baseball-Reference .com — and just 19 of those were shutouts, the fewest since the 1870s.
Or to put it a different way: Roughly every other game featured a starter who went the distance 40 years ago, whereas about one in every 55 games did last season.
Last year, no one threw more than two complete games. No one delivered more than one shutout.