Originally Posted by scott91575
It has changed but is not the only reason for the reduction in speed players. Playing surface played a major role. Stealing bases on astro turf was a major advantage vs grass. In 1982, 38% of the stadiums had artificial turf (50% of NL teams had artificial turf, and of course there was no interleague play...which led to the belief that AL teams played for the 3 run homer while NL teams were based on stealing bases). Today, it's 7% and Tropicana Field has all dirt base paths. This is probably the greatest factor in the lower emphasis on speed players.
Bob Howsam understood this, and made the big 1972 trade to take advantage of the new artificial turf at Riverfront. He sent slow guys, Lee May and Tommy Helms to Houston, for speedsters Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Ed Armbruster, and pitcher Jack Billingham. Seems like it worked