Don’t look now, but Major League Baseball players are hitting balls out of parks at a rate not seen since the peak of the steroid era.
With about one-fourth of the season gone, there are 18 players on pace to hit at least 40 home runs. At this same point last year, there were ten players on pace and nine finished with 40. In the last 30 years, there has never been a season with more than 17 players with at least 40 home runs.
In addition, 2.8% of all plate appearances have ended in a home run so far this season. That is on pace for the highest rate since 2006, which was the first year of MLB’s new drug-testing policy.
This doesn’t mean that there is once again widespread steroid use, something that is unlikely with baseball’s stringent testing measures. Fences have been moved in. Players may be getting better at getting stronger in clean ways. And who knows, maybe MLB tightened the stitches on the baseballs, a reason often cited for the brief surge in home runs in the late-1980s.
No matter what the reason, it seems the fans are finally getting what they want, less cheating and more offence.
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