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MLB offense increases slightly in 2012

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NEW YORK (AP) - Offense in the major leagues increased slightly this season after five consecutive years of drops, while strikeouts reached a record high and walks dropped to their lowest level since 1968.

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Scoring increased to 8.65 runs per game from 8.57, according to final numbers compiled by STATS LLC. The average peaked at 10.28 in 2000, three years before Major League Baseball and the players' association started drug testing with penalties. The average had been 9.72 in 2006 before dropping five years in a row.

Home runs per game, which peaked at 2.34 in 2000, had dropped to 1.87 last year, its lowest level since 1.78 in 1993. The average rebounded to 2.03 this season.

The major league batting average of .255 was unchanged from last year, remaining at its lowest figure since 1989. The big league ERA rose to 4.01 from 3.94 last season.

On-base percentage of .319 was the lowest since 1988, while walks fell from 6.18 to 6.05 - the fewest since 5.63 in 1968 - and strikeouts rose from 14.29 to 14.99. Strikeouts had been as low as 9.54 in 1978.

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