Maybe you’ve noticed that something is up in baseball this year. Well, a few things, actually. The home run counts. The home run distances. The number of people who are, out of nowhere, emerging as titans of the long ball.
The Summer of the Home Run is here, sports fans. And it’s glorious.
Baseball people know what’s up. We’ve been ogling the homers of Yankees stud rookie Aaron Judge since April. We’ve been awestruck with Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger for the past month. We’ve been looking at the home-run leaderboards and seeing familiar and not-so-familiar names like Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, George Springer, Joey Gallo, Khris Davis and Logan Morrison.
Heck, even Scooter Gennett hit four homers in a single game.
But for you sports fans who obsess about the NFL and the NBA but only casually follow baseball — like when your favorite team is doing well or when there’s huge news or when homers are getting hit at a record rate — sound the alarm, because it’s time to watch some baseball this summer. MLB is on pace to shatter the league’s single-season home-run record, which stands at 5,693. The season is roughly at about its 81-game mark and MLB teams hit 2,962 coming into play Thursday.
Reaching 6,000 homers is certainly possible. Considering more homers are generally hit in the summer, some think MLB-wide home run totals could reach as high as 6,200 this season. The current home-run-per-game rate is 1.26, which is highest than the year 2000, when the current single-season home-run record was set and there were 1.17 homers per game. So we’re talking a Steroid Era level of homers here. The 2001 season is when Barry Bonds hit 73 in a season, topping both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
There are many theories about all this. There’s new research and articles almost weekly about the balls being different this year, leading to more homers. Most recently, FiveThirtyEight is pointing at the ball as the cause of all this. Anecdotally speaking, players think it’s the ball too. Brad Ziegler of the Miami Marlins told USA Today: “Basically, it feels like every park is Colorado.”
There’s more to it, though. Hitters are smarter than ever before. They’ve figured out how to maximize launch angles to get the ball to fly out of the yard. Traditionally, when pitchers have the upper hand for a few years — like they did recently — baseball swings back in favor of hitters. That’s just the flow of the game.
So let’s forget about the “why” for a second and focus on the end-result for consumers here. For sports fans — for people who dig the long ball — this is all great news. Not only do the homers make the games more exciting, but they’re coming at a time when baseball has more great young talent than we’ve seen in years.
So whether you’re rooting for the Yankees or the Dodgers or some team in between, whether you have George Springer or Bryce Harper on your fantasty team, whether you’re just tired of Netflix and looking for something new to watch — it’s the Summer of the Home Run, so it’s time to watch some baseball.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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