The 2019 MLB season has featured an increase in home runs from last season leaving many to speculate whether the balls are being juiced. Here are three other factors that could be contributing to the increase in home runs in baseball.
As of Monday, there have been 2888 home runs hit in the 2019 MLB season. This already ranks as the 46th season in terms of home runs hit. The record belongs to the 2017 season, where big leaguers managed to hit a staggering 6105 home runs combined in a single season.
With teams having played an average of 71 games so far, MLB teams are on pace to hit close to 6600 home runs, shattering the previous record set in 2017. What’s more, despite losing two of baseball’s biggest sluggers in Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge to injury, and other big-name sluggers like Bryce Harper and Khris Davis getting off to slow starts, a few unlikely sluggers have emerged from obscurity.
Players like Derek Dietrich who in just 65 games this season has set a career-high in home runs (17). His previous high took place last season, when he hit 16 home runs in 149 games.
There’s also Ketel Marte, who in 71 games this season has already matched the number of home runs (20) he hit in the last THREE seasons — 345 games — combined. And don’t forget about Tommy La Stella who in just 66 games this season has more home runs (15) than in his previous FIVE seasons — 10 home runs in 396 games — combined.
All of this has left people wondering if baseballs are juiced. According to a piece that appeared on USA Today a little over a month ago, now that the same baseball’s used in MLB games are being used in the minors, there’s finally some evidence that proves that there is something different about the MLB balls. In fact, according to the piece, “the home run rate at the Class AAA level has leaped by nearly 50%” this season alone.
This left us wondering, however, if there could possibly be something else going on; some other factors that are contributing to the increased home run rate in baseball this 2019 MLB season.
Three Factors Contributing to Increased Home Run Rate
The first thing one should consider when determining which factors might be contributing to increased home run rates is the level of pitching. The fact of the matter is that pitching has been really bad this 2019 MLB season.
In fact, in terms of ERA, this season the league’s ERA currently sits at 4.44, which is the highest its been in a decade. What’s more, pitchers are currently giving up 4.67 runs per game (R/G) which is the highest it’s been since 2007 (4.80 R/G). Also, there are SIX teams with an ERA of 5+ in MLB which hasn’t been done since 2003.
There’s also the fact that with the launch angle (LA) revolution, hitters are purposefully trying to get the ball in the air. Because of this, an increase in home runs is bound to occur.
Let’s take the aforementioned players — Dietrich, Marte, and La Stella — for example.
- Derek Dietrich averages a 15.7° LA for his career. This season, he has an 18.6° LA.
- Ketel Marte averages a 6.6° LA for his career. This season, he has an 11.2° LA.
- Tommy La Stella averages an 11° LA for his career. This season, he has a 14.9° LA.
Finally, according to this piece on Popular Science, Climate Change might be playing a role in the increase in home runs. This details the best weather for hitting a home run, proving FIVE factors that can affect the distance a ball travels. Among them, there’s:
- Humitidy – This makes the air less dense and therefore balls will travel farther.
- Altitude and barometric pressure – The higher up you go, the less dense the air is, therefore balls will travel farther — think Coors Field.
- Air Temperature – In hotter temperatures, the air becomes less dense, therefore… you know what that means.
- Wind speed – this is pretty self-explanatory.
In conclusion, it is possible that the balls are juiced, however, we’d be remiss if we didn’t consider these other factors as well. The bottom line is, baseball is undergoing a mass popularity problem. More home runs will attract more fans and could eventually be the thing that saves baseball… again.
We discuss this in Episode #98 and more on the Welcome to THE SHOW podcast!
Episode #98 Contents
(Intro) Dominican Republic: Behind all the bad press
(17:10) Yankees: The Clint Frazier Situation
(41:26) Other Factors Contributing to Increased HR
(58:06) NBA Talk: Finals, Rockets, and What AD means to LA
(1:16:21) Letterman/Kanye Interview and more
(1:34:36) Bestias Cibaeña Fantasy League Bonus