A recent article in Business Insider pointed out that hitters in Major League Baseball are hitting home runs at pace that would exceed the 2000 season, which was two years after the Mark McGwire – Sammy Sosa steroid-laced farce. This subject is one of the highlights of episode #46 of the podcast hosted by Gene Gumbs.
The biggest question raised in the article is why this is happening. Major League Baseball has very stringent PED testing now, so, in theory, the number of home runs being hit this year shouldn’t be steroid tainted. We’ve already seen a number of MLB and minor league players suspended this year, so the system appears to be working.
I don’t, in fact, believe steroids has anything to do with it. I think it has is mostly due to inferior pitching. Yes, a lot more guys are throwing in the upper 90s and hitting triple digits, but as the old saying goes, “The faster they come, the farther they go out.”
I also believe it is the lack of control that hurlers have that has led to the number of home runs. For the most part, gone are the days when guys like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine painted corners and used guile to get guys out. Most pitchers these days don’t have that kind of control, and the changes to the strike zone has also made it more difficult for those who can.
Baseball Insider even said that MLB has tested the ball and is comfortable that the ball isn’t juiced.
I know this, baseball today has become an all-or-nothing kind of game for hitters. They hit home runs or they strike out. That is a bit of an exaggeration, but the number of guys who strike out 150+ times in a season has risen, along with the home runs.
It used to be a badge of shame to strike out a lot; now, no one blinks an eye. Ted Williams never struck out more than 64 times in his career (and that was in his rookie year!). Babe Ruth never struck out 100 times in a season. Joe Dimaggio? His highest number of Ks in a season was 39, also in his rookie year. To bring it a little closer to modern times, how about Wade Boggs? 68 in 1990, the same year he walked 87 times!
So, yes, we are seeing more home runs, but we are also seeing a lot more guys who don’t have the first idea what it means to be a complete hitter.
Also in this Episode:
- If the Yankees want to compete next year, they need to blow it up.
- Wonderful tributes to Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn.
- The Red Sox get a jump on the trade deadline.
- My pick for team of the week
I thank you for listening! If you have any questions or suggestions for a future episode, leave me a note here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.