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We drown in things



Photo: Patrick Smith (Getty)

The homer who wrote baseball history has been quite exhausting these days. Sure, it was a big moment in the game when the Orioles had a 5-2 lead over the Dodgers in the seventh inning. But this game was not really important to both teams, and Jonathan Villars Homer – the 6,106. Homer's MLB win this season, which broke the old record despite many games left – could not help but be a pedestrian. The more homeruns there are, the rarer and more special they are. And so Villars Strike – the thug that flies to Cooperstown – was for some time the most unusual homer ever hit. Until that title was taken from each of the next 19 homeruns hit for the rest of the night.

In 2019, 6,125 homeruns were hit, and the number is meaningful only if you use them for comparisons. For example, before the record year of 2017, no year had seen more than 5,693 things (2000). And 18 game days remain. According to ESPN Stats and Research, 661 Home Runs have been performed more frequently than any other previous season by 9/11. What's more remarkable is how the surge has been felt at the team level and in shorter periods of time.

  • One team's homerun record in one season was broken. On the 31st of August.
  • The season record for homeruns abandoned by a team was broken. On the 22nd of august.
  • Sixteen – most! – MLB teams are well on their way to setting franchise records for homeruns.
  • Twenty-three teams are at the same pace as him with his 200 homers as a club, breaking the old record of 17.
  • In May, most homeruns in MLB were ever scored in a calendar month. Until this mark was broken in June. And set again in August.
  • The Yankees set a club home record for a calendar month by reaching 74 in August. No team ever scored more than 58 goals in a single month.
  • This season, the clubs set a record for most consecutive games with a homer to start a season (Mariners, 20), and for most consecutive games with a homer (Yankees, 31).

It is no longer a question of what caused this. Are the players juicing? Sure, probably many of them. But PEDs are not necessary or sufficient to explain these crazy numbers. It's the ball, it's all the ball and nothing but the ball.

The seams of the 2019 MLB baseball are flatter, which gives the thugs the double advantage of making it harder for pitchers to deal with and that they continue to fly when hit. They can, like Justin Verlander, argue the conspiracy theory that the league purposely does so to increase the insult – weird how MLB bought Rawlings just last year for "input and direction" for making baseballs have – but it does not matter in the end. The ball is different and the effects are breathtaking.

The best evidence for the role of the ball in Homerun-Spike is not to be found in the top division. Instead, it's at Triple-A, where the MLB ball was used this season.

That's an increase of 57 percent. At every other level of minors using the old ball, home runs are either stable or bad.

So it's the ball. Which leaves two more questions. Do you like that? And does MLB? The sport has been significantly, if not fundamentally changed, by a tiny adaptation of the equipment. Either MLB will make further optimizations to mitigate these changes, or this – I'm doing a blog with an Orioles highlight in the midst of Kickass wildcard races – is just the new normal.


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