Author Topic: Home Runs Are Way, Way Up. So Are the Theories Why  (Read 1411 times)

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Offline welch

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Home Runs Are Way, Way Up. So Are the Theories Why
By TYLER KEPNER JULY 11, 2016


SAN DIEGO — The All-Stars dressed in yellow and brown on Monday, making the field at Petco Park look, from above, like a grill full of cheeseburgers. The homage to the host San Diego Padres, who once wore similar uniforms, helped distinguish Home Run Derby day from every other day of this curious baseball season.

Home runs are up. Way, way up. Baseball arrived at the All-Star break with hitters on pace for more than 5,600 home runs, a level exceeded only once in history: in 2000, at the height of the steroid era.

“I’d like to say that guys aren’t cheating,” said Stephen Vogt, the Oakland Athletics’ catcher. “Everybody’s going to speculate — right? — when the home run numbers go up. But we are cleaning up the game, and I hope that’s not the reason behind it.”

Before 2003, when baseball began testing for performance-enhancing drugs, we searched for reasons to explain the surge in home runs. Expansion, smaller ballparks and better nutrition all played a part — but history, rightly, gave steroids most of the blame.

So what now? Besides Dee Gordon — last year’s National League leader in batting average and steals — the players caught in this season’s drug net have mostly been marginal. Perhaps some sluggers are beating the system, but a widespread cheating epidemic seems unlikely.

But something is happening. Two years ago, there were 4,186 home runs, or 0.86 per team per game. That was the lowest figure in any of the last 20 full seasons, dating to 1996. This season, there are 1.16 homers per team per game, up from 1.01 in 2015.

<snip>

Full story at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/sports/baseball/home-run-trend-derby-all-star-break.html?ref=baseball

Online Smithian

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I know that Scherzer has been giving up a lot of homers but I didn't know he was driving up the MLB average this much

:shock:

Offline HalfSmokes

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'cortisone' shots

Online imref

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one year variation does not a trend make....

Online Natsinpwc

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one year variation does not a trend make....
It's a two year trend and if you look at the numbers it's quite significant.  Up about 35 percent from 2014 to 2016 (0.86 to 1.16)  It's the major reason why the runs scored per game have finally leveled off after years of decline.  I think the hitters have learned how to use the power generated by all these guys throwing upper 90s.  I like to think that way so I don't think about PEDs.




Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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I also think it is the hard throwers.  I wonder if the flies to grounders ratios have changed, too.  If there are more fly balls being hit relative to grounders, and there are more fly ball pitchers throwing hard, you'll get the Scherzer Effect of dominant K totals with more home runs.

Online Natsinpwc

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I also think it is the hard throwers.  I wonder if the flies to grounders ratios have changed, too.  If there are more fly balls being hit relative to grounders, and there are more fly ball pitchers throwing hard, you'll get the Scherzer Effect of dominant K totals with more home runs.
Article says the fly ball rate not going up that much. So a conundrum.

Offline Elvir Ovcina

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I also think it is the hard throwers. I wonder if the flies to grounders ratios have changed, too.  If there are more fly balls being hit relative to grounders, and there are more fly ball pitchers throwing hard, you'll get the Scherzer Effect of dominant K totals with more home runs.

That's pretty easy to test.  The data set is pretty granular, so you can see (1) if the HR rate on pitches at given speeds has changed (e.g., HR rate on 95 MPH fastballs), (2) if pitch mix is affecting it (are pitchers throwing more fastballs because they throw harder), and (3), related to (2), is there a "sweet spot" for home run throwing (I would assume that, at least for fastballs, HR rates follow a predictable distribution - very hard (97 and up) don't get hit out much, but neither do very slow (under 88 or so) because guys who throw that slowly don't stick around much unless they can keep their fastball down/on the ground) and a corresponding increase in pitches in that range driving the rise?  Anyone with the full data set and a software tool could run those pretty easily.

It's more likely PEDs or a change to the ball than a statistical aberration: while it's only 1 year, that's a big sample size (almost 2700 games already).  A rise that big over that size of a sample suggests something's different across the entire sample.  It could be changing hitter approaches - it seems every team has 3 Mark Reynolds hitters now, it could be harder throwers, it could be PEDs, it could be a combination of all those.

Offline Count Walewski

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all the good pitchers are recovering from TJ surgery?

Offline HalfSmokes

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Global warming :panic:

Offline dcpatti

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Global warming :panic:

You know what, I actually had this thought. We all know that the ball carries farther when it's hot out than when it's cold out. I would be curious to see the average temperature at game start/end times over the last few years.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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You know what, I actually had this thought. We all know that the ball carries farther when it's hot out than when it's cold out. I would be curious to see the average temperature at game start/end times over the last few years.
I think it is pretty constant in Tampa Bay, so that could be a control case.

Offline Jordanz Meatballz

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It's probably PEDs, like every other spike.

Online Slateman

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Higher pitch velocities + players swinging for the fences.

Online Mathguy

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Interesting discussion on this during the Yankee-Giants game today.  They mentioned with StatCast, teams have seen HRs are hit at a 26 to 29 degree angle.  So players are swinging at that angle.

But they also mention the 26 to 29 degree swing ends up with many strikeouts.

Offline comish4lif

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It's the ball.

Offline comish4lif

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Interesting discussion on this during the Yankee-Giants game today.  They mentioned with StatCast, teams have seen HRs are hit at a 26 to 29 degree angle.  So players are swinging at that angle.

But they also mention the 26 to 29 degree swing ends up with many strikeouts.
I don't think that the optimal launch angle is really new news.

Wouldn't that be basic artillery information that was known in the 1800s?

Online Mathguy

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I don't see the correlation.  Baseball has force going in 2 directions where in artillery, force is only in 1 direction.  Also, there's no correlation to the distance the batted ball must travel with the distance wanted in artillery.

I don't think that the optimal launch angle is really new news.

Wouldn't that be basic artillery information that was known in the 1800s?


Offline Count Walewski

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That's pretty cool if batters have good enough hand eye coordination to turn "26 to 29 degrees" into an actionable change in their batting approach. I guess that's why they are in the majors.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Home Runs Are Way, Way Up. So Are the Theories Why
« Reply #19: September 25, 2016, 11:50:44 AM »
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In J.J. Hardy’s opinion, increased velocity is a big reason home runs totals are through the roof. High-octane heaters are hard to square up, which is a double-edged sword for hitters and pitchers alike.

“The game is changing toward more power,” said the Orioles shortstop. “Pitchers are throwing harder, and it’s harder to string together a bunch of hits, so the best way to score runs is to hit home runs. As a result, you’re seeing guys swing for the fences and you’re seeing guys strike out a lot more.”
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/sunday-notes-dickerson-anti-velo-bias-melancon-in-dc-more/

Offline blue911

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Re: Home Runs Are Way, Way Up. So Are the Theories Why
« Reply #20: September 25, 2016, 12:45:56 PM »
Did Minty hit one?