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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Why the drop in home runs in 2018? Major League Baseball had better hope it’s the weather.

The article is behind the Washington Post Paywall.  Some interesting thoughts and factoids about the evolution of the game the last few years.

“I actually really like the game,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said last year. “But it’s not what I like — the issue is what do the fans want to see. [And] our research suggests the home run is actually a popular play in baseball.”

Keep up the good work Rob.


Where have you gone Brady Anderson? Posted: April 21, 2018 at 09:59 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: three true outcomes

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   1. BDC Posted: April 21, 2018 at 10:25 AM (#5657472)
Thanks, Brady!

So far in 2018, home runs (1.06 per game) are down to almost 1998 levels (1.04), and I remember fans in 1998 being disappointed in the low level of home runs :)

Or put another way, 2018 would be the tenth-highest HR rate in history. Two of the top three years in history were 2016 and 2017. So if there is any panic behind that paywall, it would seem misplaced.
   2. Adam Starblind Recommends Posted: April 21, 2018 at 11:33 AM (#5657482)
Behind the paywall, but you get 10 free article views per month, so you don't necessarily have to pay to read it.
   3. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 21, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5657488)
Alan M. Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois and a leading expert on the physics of baseball, is among those who caution against jumping to any conclusions, about either home run rates or the composition of the baseball, at this early date.

This year’s decline in homers “might be due to the unusually cold weather,” Nathan in an email. He added, “I am generally skeptical of claims that the ball has changed, whether ‘juiced’ or ‘unjuiced.’”

I'm not much on conspiracies but I wouldn't be surprised if post-strike MLB juiced the balls to get attention back on the game and players. Then once they had "steroids under control", they unjuiced the balls to help show that their policies "were working".

Brady, you are no longer a BBTF posting virgin! Mazel Tov!
   4. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 21, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5657489)
It's obvious that's what happened. And for this year, just wait till it warms up. The record will be set again.
   5. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 21, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5657492)
I'm not going to pay, nor register for free previews. Can anyone confirm if the comparison is HR rates so far this year with rates all of last year, or just through April 20 of last year?
   6. Where have you gone Brady Anderson? Posted: April 21, 2018 at 12:27 PM (#5657498)
But the home run rate, which has been on a precipitous climb since the middle of 2015, is down so far this season, from 2.34 homers per game in March/April 2017 to 2.14 per game so far in 2018

So it sounds like it’s not quite an even comparison, since it goes through the end of April for 2017.
   7. eric Posted: April 21, 2018 at 02:11 PM (#5657526)
Given that home runs spiked mid-season 2015, I'm a big believer in the juiced balls hypothesis. There are cultural shifts in sports, but they don't happen over night.

What would an analysis that attempts to gauge if hitters' approaches have changed even look like? Swing speed on each count? Swing arc?

But basically if players' approaches didn't change that much in the middle of 2015 but all of a sudden more balls were flying over fences, that really points towards the equipment being at fault.
   8. RMc accompanies the Griffmen to Augusta Posted: April 21, 2018 at 03:08 PM (#5657569)
our research suggests the home run is actually a popular play in baseball

My research suggests that water is wet, the sun rises in the east and your dog wants steak.
   9. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 21, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5657604)
from TFA
This season, MLB mandated that all teams store their baseballs in air-conditioned rooms, while the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first time are using a humidor at Chase Field to store theirs. Both measures were intended to standardize the baseballs’ “coefficient of restitution” — or, their liveliness. The Diamondbacks’ humidor has served its purpose, as the home run rate at Chase Field has dropped acutely, from 3.5 percent of all plate appearances in 2017 to 2.7 so far this season. Perhaps the air-conditioned storage across the game is having a similar, if smaller, effect.

could be, I suppose
   10. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: April 21, 2018 at 04:26 PM (#5657621)
My research suggests that water is wet, the sun rises in the east and your dog wants steak.

Rob Manfred comes across like a manager in a Dilbert pane ever single time he opens his mouth. Are we sure he's not a Hologram that Bud Selig is operating out of his basement?
   11. Walt Davis Posted: April 21, 2018 at 05:41 PM (#5657677)
Given the season started a week earlier, he's comparing 19 games to 24 games, hardly a big deal. Small samples, too early and maybe it's just the weather are mentioned repeatedly through the article.

The rise in walks may be a stategic adjustment by pitchers. Walk rates tend to vary with ISO/SLG and, if memory serves, we saw increases in walk rates as pitchers/teams realized sillyball was here to stay. A few judicious walks can avoid a few damaging HRs.

Comparing to full years -- since I have no other easy option -- so far this year, the fair ball split (nearly the on-contact split) is looking like all of 2015 (331/545 vs 334/537) but presumably this year will go up with warmer weather. Still 2016's 340/561 much less 2017's 342/577 might already be out of reach. With the pretty substantial jump in Ks, even if the on-contact starts to catch up, we'd expect lower overall offense ... might come down to those walks.

The article notes we're on pace for a drop of about 600 HRs ... which is what was gained last year so even if that holds up, it would be the 2nd or 3rd most HRs in a season. (there have been so many cancellations already that it may be hard to make all of those games up which would have a small effect on season totals.)

   12. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 21, 2018 at 09:43 PM (#5657784)
“I actually really like the game,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said last year.

Hard to tell that from the changes to the game he has enacted and even worse ones he is reportedly "considering."

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