Baseball is Juiced?
Is Major League Baseball having a home run problem? Although home runs are theoretically good for the game due to attendance and high scoring offenses bringing fans to the ballpark, the recent explosion of power numbers feels incredibly fake in many ways.
A Recent Phenomenon
As you can see from the year-by-year averages and totals from Baseball Reference, home runs have become more common very recently. 2019 is setting a new record for home runs hit per game. The 1.40 average tops every other year by a wide margin, including 2000’s average of 1.17, during one of the peak seasons of the steroid era.
2016 – The Beginning of the Bombs
It is said that sometime in 2016 the new baseballs were introduced. This makes perfect sense, as you can see the average home runs per game number increased from 1.01 in 2015 to 1.16 in 2016, really a massive increase if you think about how it’s simply an average. About 700 more home runs were hit in 2016 compared to 2015. 2017 was the first year ever with 6000+ homers! The trend does not appear to be slowing down, as 2019 has been even crazier.
Silly Looking Home Runs
I have noticed this homer-happy trend directly in games. Many hitters seem to be “poking” home runs just over the fence that in past years would have been doubles or easy outs. Balls that should be routine flyouts are going over the wall. Somewhat random hitters are popping 20 longballs per year like it’s nothing. I love home runs and offense, but I think it’s gotten ridiculous.
Check out this example:
The announcer literally says it was “poked” – not that it wasn’t an impressive smash, but it feels like random low-effort swings are rewarded with 4 total bases too often nowadays.
I do find it interesting that the single season home run record appears safe for now. Despite the huge increase in total home runs hit, nobody is approaching the record of 73 hit in a single season by Barry Bonds in 2001. Although Bonds was likely on PED’s for that record, it speaks to how good of a hitter he was that even with these crazy juiced up baseballs, nobody has come close to the record yet in these recent homer-happy years.
What do you think? Baseball is juiced? Or no? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!