Sheeet, so easy…even Brett Wallace almost hit one to the warning track.
There are two numbers that are probably a bit higher than we would have expected, though, and they’re definitely related.
The league average ERA is 4.13 despite the increase in strikeouts for one simple reason; Major League teams have hit a lot of home runs in the first week of the season. Given the time of year we’re talking about, it’s almost an extraordinary amount of home runs.
...It’s too early to call this a continuation of that trend, but I will note that the current MLB HR/CON rate in 2013 is 4.0%, the same as it was during the 1999 and 2001 seasons. Yes, it’s 116 games out of 2,430, and this could end up being nothing more than a blip on the radar, so don’t go overboard with any conclusions just yet.
However, April is supposed to be the month where the ball flies the least. The first week of April is the coldest weak of the month, on average. Because we haven’t even taken two full turns through the rotation yet, the innings totals are skewed towards each team’s best pitchers. And yet, despite all those variables that would theoretically push home run totals down, the ball is flying out of Major League stadiums at about the same rate it did during the absolute peak of the home run boom.
It could very well be nothing. 2,000 innings isn’t enough to draw any real conclusions. Maybe it’s been unseasonably warm the first week. With samples this small, a few gusts of wind and some random variation could be tricking us into seeing something that isn’t there. With that caveat, though, it is still something to keep an eye on. MLB saw an uptick in power last year, and it’s seen a very small sample uptick in power to start 2013. The rising strikeout rates are keeping the scores down enough to where it has gone unnoticed, but dingers might be making an underreported comeback in Major League Baseball right now.