Reggie Ball: Home Runs And Strikeouts Take Over The Game And The World Series

Gone are the days in baseball of hit-and-runs and big innings of multiple hits and sacrifice bunts by anyone other than the pitcher.

In their places are the parts of the game Reggie Jackson (563 home runs, 2597 strikeouts) played 40 years ago: strikeouts, walks, and home runs.

It has been a season of marveling, watching baseballs leave the park at a record rate: 6,105 home runs were hit in 2017 during the regular season.

The previous high for home runs in a season was 5,693 set at the end of the steroid era in 2000.

The number plummeted to 4186 in 2014.

But, the uptick reversed almost immediately to get us to this year’s record number. For statistics freaks the 6,105 home runs were a 46% increase from 2014 to 2017. Wow!

Eight were hit in Game 2 of the World Series. Home Runs have accounted for 14 of the 17 runs through the first two World Series games. Game 2 was one of the most entertaining World series games in some people’s lifetime if measured by the long ball.

MLB must be excited.

But, should we wonder what is going on?

MLB turned a blind eye during the steroid era because it spiked the popularity of the game. Ratings went through the roof as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa “chased history” during the epic 1998 home run race. McGwire set the single season record for home runs with 70.

Did MLB encourage the latest unleashing of the long ball with a juiced baseball? Remember, that was the theory proposed routinely by old timers like Joe Morgan back in the 90’s.

Turned out it wasn’t the ball that was juiced. Has a new concoction from a moral-less scientist found its way into the veins of the players?

Or, are more players now encouraged to have an upper cut swing as opposed to the old way of level swings, hitting down on the ball, and just making contact?

Maybe it’s just money? Is it that hitting home runs gets you a larger paycheck than hitting singles and doubles or moving runners over?

Maybe it’s one. Maybe it’s all.

While small ball isn’t as sexy as the long ball (remember the Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine “chicks dig the long ball” commercial of 1999) there is hope, Justin Verlander did bunt over a runner in Game 2.

Of course, he is a pitcher.

One comment

  • I really like the article. I’m wondering: if someone has come up with a new “undetectable” performance enhancing drug, do you really think players would use it? Of course, some would — some guys are still getting suspended, etc., for breaking drug MLB drug rules. But I don’t think a lot of players would be lining up for it. Too much at stake.

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