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No-hitters aren't what they used to be

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Just like every other baseball fanatic still awake past midnight ET on Wednesday, I was watching as Jered Weaver put the finishing touches on his first career no-hitter.

It was a heart-warming scene, seeing Weaver's Los Angeles Angels teammates mob him on the mound moments after Torii Hunter reeled in the final out against the Minnesota Twins.

But for me, something still felt a bit off.

I remember watching Jon Lester's no-hitter a few years back against Kansas City and being riveted. But for some reason, Weaver's no-hitter Wednesday night just didn't register with me.

Maybe I've become way too cynical but my first reaction to Weaver's accomplishment wasn't, "Wow, what an amazing performance." It was more like, "Really, another one?"

Folks, we're on pace to witness 13 no-hitters this season.

Where is the drama in that? No-hitters used to be suspenseful. As soon as I flipped the channel to Weaver in the ninth inning, I never felt like the no- hitter was in doubt.

And isn't that half the fun of no-hitters? No-hitters are supposed to have you on the edge of your seat because you don't know when it will happen again.

Now my attitude toward no-hitters is, "Well if I miss this one, I'm sure somebody else will throw one in a few weeks."

We're almost at the point where no-hitters could actually be a category in roto leagues.

What does it all mean?

It means we're living in a pitcher's world, partner.

It isn't a coincidence that Weaver and Philip Humber tossed no-hitters within two weeks of each other. Just look at how many no-hitters have been thrown over the last several years.

We've now witnessed 11 no-no's since the beginning of 2010 and 18 since the start of 2007. During that span (2007 to present), there have been at least two no-hitters in every season, including a whopping six hitless games in 2010.

Compare that number with the eight total no-hitters thrown between 2000 and 2006 and you'll start to realize how insanely frequent no-hitters are becoming.

Sure, pitchers are getting better, but there's more to it than that.

Have you seen Barry Bonds on the field recently? I didn't think so. The Steroid Era is over and it isn't coming back.

No-hitters might not be a big deal to baseball fans anymore, but 10 years ago, a 50-home run season wasn't a big deal, either.

In 2001, the year Barry Bonds launched 73 homers, four hitters were able to reach the 50 home run plateau. In fact, between 1996-2002, an era that is usually perceived as the peak of the Steroid Era, that feat was achieved 17 times by nine different hitters.

Since 2002, just six sluggers have cracked the 50 home run mark and none has touched 60 dingers. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds topped 60- plus homers six times between 1998 and 2001.

Last week, I was listening to an interview with Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton on Dan Patrick's radio show. During the interview, Patrick asked Hamilton what his career high for home runs in a season was.

Patrick guessed it was in the mid-40s. The answer was 32, accomplished during Hamilton's MVP season in 2010.

It's no wonder that Bonds and Big Mac were able to bash so many homers back in the day. Physically, those guys were enormous compared to the sluggers of today.

Let's go back to the four hitters who tallied 50 homers in 2001 (Bonds, Luis Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez and Sosa). That quartet had an average height of just under 6-foot-2 and an average weight of 221.5 pounds. That's almost two inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than the league's most recent 50 home run hitter, Jose Bautista, who stands at just 6 feet, 192 pounds.

Cleaning up the game hasn't just stripped baseball of its crooked home run totals. It's also led to better pitching statistics across the board.

Only two major league pitchers posted an ERA lower than three in 2001 and the year before that, the number was just three. Last season, that total increased to 17. In 2012, 44 qualified starting pitchers are still carrying sub-three ERAs.

Yovani Gallardo finished 40th in the major leagues last season with an ERA of 3.52. That same ERA would have been good for 21st in the league back in 2001.

How does any of this affect fantasy baseball, you might be wondering? This is a fantasy column, after all.

It means that stud hitters like Matt Kemp and Miguel Cabrera are more valuable than ever.

There are 20 guys in the league who can do what Weaver and Matt Cain do, but how many players can hit 50 homers? Bautista, Kemp, maybe Ryan Braun? It's not a long list.

With hitters crushing fewer home runs than ever, pitchers with sub-three ERAs come out of the woodwork all the time. Brandon Beachy, Johnny Cueto, Kyle Lohse and Lance Lynn are all currently in the Top 10 in ERA. None of those players has been to an All-Star game.

That element of surprise doesn't exist with guys who put up big home run numbers. Of the 17 players who drove in over 100 runs last season, only three reached that total for the first time in 2011.

Pitchers with low ERAs are a dime a dozen, but 100-RBI guys are in an elite class.

There's no denying it. The balance of power in this league has shifted toward the pitchers. So value the Hamiltons and the Teixeiras of the world, because there aren't as many of them as there used to be.

And don't expect my jaw to drop when somebody throws another no-hitter tonight.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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