2016: The year of the home run

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
40,171
Here's something I didn't realize was happening:

Before explaining how, take a look at the raw numbers first, because they are that staggering. Absent a home run collapse in the final week, major leaguers in 2016 are going to have finished their plate appearances with a home run rate higher than any season in baseball history. The heart of the steroid era? They homered less often. The bonanza 1987 season? Nope. How about 1961, with Maris and Mantle? Not even close. In 176,371 plate appearances this season coming into Sunday, major league hitters had homered 5,392 times, or 3.06 percent of their plate appearances. Never before have they cracked the 3 percent mark.
http://sports.yahoo.com/news/why-2016-is-the-year-of-the-home-run-031510268.html

Thoughts? The article briefly mentions juiced balls, but that wouldn't just help out the "middle class", everyone would benefit.

It’s certainly not because of the league leaders. Nor is it an unparalleled bevy of 30-homer sluggers. There are barely two-thirds as many of those as there were in 2000. Mostly, it’s an onslaught of guys who aren’t home run hitters turning into home run hitters. On Sunday, Jung-ho Kang became the 103rd player to hit at least 20 home runs this season (in 297 at-bats), tying the record from 2000. It will be smashed this week. The record for 10-plus-homer hitters should fall, too.
 

johnmd20

figuratively like ebola
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 30, 2003
42,888
New York City
PEDs are back and they are back big. It was only a matter of time before the players in MLB learned the drug testing system and how to beat it, something the NFL and NBA players have known for years.
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
40,171
PEDs are back and they are back big. It was only a matter of time before the players in MLB learned the drug testing system and how to beat it, something the NFL and NBA players have known for years.
But then why wouldn't the top numbers be higher? Are only the 10 HR guys using them to get to 20?
 

Saints Rest

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
I wonder if this is more endemic to a new recognition of placing a higher value on SLG over OBP. Perhaps guys like Mookie who might have sought out a career of high OBP, low SLG, have decided to swing for the fences more often, to wait on their pitch and look to drive it. Guys like Travis Shaw hitting 15-20 HR's are the ones with the new perspective and thus the ones driving this sort of increase.
 

RIFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
2,072
Blackstone MA
But then why wouldn't the top numbers be higher? Are only the 10 HR guys using them to get to 20?
Maybe not that exactly, but might be part of the equation. I did a very quick exercise to compare 2003 to 2016 for SS and 2B (traditionally not positions stocked with power hitters).

2B had a huge jump with a lot of guys not know for being power hitters jumping up into the high teens and 20 HR totals.
In 2003, 2B hit 416 HR's. 13 players hit 10 or more, led by Soriano (38), Boone (35) and Kent (22)
So far this year, 2B have hit 551 HR's. 23 have hit 10 or more, led by Dozier (42), Cano (33) and Odor (31).

Shortstops hasn't seen as big of jump, but is still up despite 2003 seeing a number of known (and suspected) roiders.
In 2003 SS hit 425 HR's. 17 hit 10 or more led by Arod (42), Nomar (28) and Jose Valentine (28).
So far this year, SS have hit 450. 17 have hit 10 or more led by Story (28), Seager(26), and Semien (26)

Someone with more statistical chops might be able to see if there is a positional variance where the increase is more concentrated in certain positions, particularly those not traditionally stocked with HR hitters.
 

foulkehampshire

hillbilly suburbanite
SoSH Member
Feb 25, 2007
5,070
Wesport, MA
I wonder if this is more endemic to a new recognition of placing a higher value on SLG over OBP. Perhaps guys like Mookie who might have sought out a career of high OBP, low SLG, have decided to swing for the fences more often, to wait on their pitch and look to drive it. Guys like Travis Shaw hitting 15-20 HR's are the ones with the new perspective and thus the ones driving this sort of increase.
More guys are selling out for hard contact to beat shifts/defensive positioning . I wonder if the rise in strikeouts and walks is a byproduct of that approach.
Despite the rise in HR's, offense as a whole is still down from what we saw from the mid 90's through 2009.
 

Gdiguy

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
3,058
San Diego, CA
Count me in the group believing this is a coached choice to value slugging over OBP. I wonder if foulke above is correct - whereas before you might to to slap hits around defensive positioning, now players are being coached to just try to hit the ball out of the park.

The Mets are a good example - their club record for HRs in a season was 200 (in 2006); this year they're at 212 already, and that's in a year where they're nearly 200 runs below their club record (639 vs 853, and that's including the 17 run ridiculousness last night). It's hard to argue that it's really improving their offense; it's just shifting it towards HRs instead of stringing hits together.
 

simplicio

lurker
Apr 11, 2012
1,382
PEDs are back and they are back big. It was only a matter of time before the players in MLB learned the drug testing system and how to beat it, something the NFL and NBA players have known for years.
No, as the Lindbergh article makes clear, the jump happened immediately at the all-star break last year. I can't think of anything but the ball that makes sense, given that.
 

reggiecleveland

sublime
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Mar 5, 2004
21,021
Saskatoon Canada
PEDs are back and they are back big. It was only a matter of time before the players in MLB learned the drug testing system and how to beat it, something the NFL and NBA players have known for years.
Sometimes the easiest answer is wrong. For that reason I won't say maybe the baseballs. I will never be convinced the balls in 1987 were juiced. I know in 77 there was no secret the balls were juicier. It is strange that so many guys are getting to 20, without the guys in the 50s.

First of all the jump in roid era was not all drugs. Strength training becoming popular, as it did in the late 80s in baseball almost always goes hand in hand with PEDS. The old time NFL guys from the 60s worried about needing a bra if the lifted weights were replaced almost immediately by guys on Dbol.

So while steroids are gone, smarter better training means guys are still a lot stronger than they were in the late 80s, even clean. The coaching change way from the rotational swing has probably given the hitters a bit of an edge that has been masked by the shifts when it comes to average. I have been to coaching clinics with lots of college and some MLB hitting coahes, and they talk about working the count and letting it rip, for kids as young as 12. I am not convinced in the not too distant past a guy Mookie Betts size would have been told to put the ball in play. Guys certainly sell out and K a lot, and thanks to sabermetrics, managers don't really care about Ks. I remember talk about benching Bobby Bonds to stop him from having 200 ks. There are two teams the Os and Jays that guys sell out all the time. JBJ is at the bottom o the order letting it rip a lot of the time as well.