MLB: What’s With all the Home Runs?
Last night in the home run derby, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. blew past the record for most homers hit in the derby. The original record was held by Giancarlo Stanton who hit 45, last night, Guerrero ended with 91. This begs the question, what changed? Prior to even Giancarlo Stanton, it would take just over 30 home runs max to win. When Vladimir Guerrero Sr. won the home run derby in 2007, he only hit 17 total home runs. Which is a far cry from the 91 his son would hit, twelve years later. So is Major League Baseball juicing the balls? According to MLB, the balls were indeed changed, but they would not explain to the Washington Post how or why.
All of these efforts to make the game “more watchable” to the casual sports fan would cause a league to possibly change the ball in order to create more of an exciting game. The thing about it is, it’s more than just an altered ball that is a reason why home run totals have spiked. The approach to the game is changing as a whole. Originally the batters goal, when he took batting practice, was to try and hit to all ends of the field. Not in today’s MLB, the game today is exactly how Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor would want it, more power.
So from college, high school, and even little league. More and more coaches are looking towards things like launch angle. The mentality in the modern game seems to be about,” Why learn to hit away from the shift when you can just hit over it.” In today’s game, you see lower batting averages with high home run totals. Strikeouts are also an all-time high because of this. So in short, the reason for the change in the home run totals is more than just “special balls”. It’s a change in preparation and mentality that causes batters to look for more pitches to swing outside of the ballpark rather than strategy.
The first team that can institute strategy in today’s game will go a lot further than the national pundits would even imagine. Think about it, more often than not, teams will shift to the batters tendencies. If batters look to change the game, then they can get on base. More base runners, more opportunity to score. Especially when the shifts in today’s game sometimes result in no one near the third base bag. So instead of trying to swing for the fences to win a championship, strategic baseball may be the more guaranteed option.
Do you think the MLB is using juiced balls? Leave a comment below.
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