Baseball in 2018 – My thoughts on the state of Major League Baseball

Baseball in 2018 is certainly different than the baseball I grew up watching primarily from 2006-2010.  In this blog post I’ll give my thoughts on the current game, what I like about things, and what I’m not a fan of.

The Home Run Explosion

As most of you probably know, 2017 was truly the year of the long ball, as MLB set a new record for total home runs hit during the season.  They seem to want us to think that the balls are not juiced, but the pitchers and tons of statistics say otherwise.  I’m definitely inclined to believe the ball is juiced, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is true that offense gets more fans in the seats and watching on TV, and to me it can make the stats more fun to look at.

However, I feel that it may be going too far.  When you’ve got a normal or possibly even below-average crop of hitters across baseball, and they end up breaking home run records set in the heart of the steroid era, you know something is up.  My problem isn’t so much the total number of home runs, but the players who are hitting them in abundance who would not thrive in this way in any other year or era.  To me it makes the stats a bit artificial if someone would normally hit 10-15 home runs but can now consistently pop 25 and have a greater legacy simply because the ball was juiced.

Overall I’m fine with it.  I especially enjoyed it in the 2017 Postseason, when the Yankees hit a handful of big and memorable home runs, not to mention the insanely epic Game 5 of the World Series.  Moments like those are what make it worthwhile, but to me some of the regular season stats have become somewhat absurd for the level of player producing them.

Mike Trout going deep
Unlike Mike Trout, who would be a superstar in any era.

Rule changes

I’m very happy that MLB is working to address the pace of play issues.  Mound visits can be frustrating to sit through in the late innings of a regular season game, so limiting them is a good idea.  I don’t like the idea of baseball being a timed sport with any kind of clock, but certain pitchers do take a long time to deliver the ball.  I’m not sure how best to address that problem outside of a clock.

Great Postseasons

This is just about my favorite thing regarding the sport.  It seems as though every year there are classic postseason moments.  Matchups that make dreams come true.  Aces coming out of the bullpen to sink or swim.  Players like Charlie Culberson, Pete Kozma, and Alex Bregman delivering huge hits that turned games or series around.  

October baseball has reached a height that excites me.  From 2006-2009, I didn’t notice as many epic moments.  This could be some recency bias on my part, and of course I was overjoyed when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009.  However, there have been a string of great postseasons, arguably from 2010-2017.  It’s these classic games and moments that make me love baseball so much and get me excited about watching every fall.

Reggie Jackson in October 1973
Reggie Jackson before a 1973 World Series game.

Conclusion

Overall I’m extremely excited about baseball going forward.  There is an exciting youth movement, more home runs than ever before, epic postseasons just about every year, and the Yankees look like they’re set up for success in the near future!  😀

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