By JAKE SEINER
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The Major League Baseball batting average this April was a lousy .231, once again on pace to fall under the record low of .237 set in The Year of the Pitcher in 1968. After several years of surging home run totals, batters are slugging a measly .369 and averaging 4.03 runs per game, both lows for baseball since the strike-altered 1981 season. Ripple effects from labor strife are a suspect in this year’s offensive downturn. So, too, is the baseball, of course, along with caveats about cold weather and small samples. There’s one area of universal agreement, and it’s that pitching has become exceptionally good.