So far in 2014, Major League Baseball games are averaging just 1.75 home runs per game, the lowest mark in 23 years, seven years before Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the sporting world with their historic home run chase in 1998.
During what we can roughly call the “steroid era,” from 1994 (when home runs per game first eclipsed 2.0) and 2006 (when MLB instituted their new drug testing policy), both home runs per game and isolated power (ISO; extra base hits per at bat) skyrocketed.
While both stats went up in the steroid era, what is interesting is that the home runs per game increased at a faster rate than ISO (notice the space between the blue and orange lines below). This season, the space between the two lines is nearly gone for the first time in nearly a quarter-century.
It is hard not to imagine that this is a result of steroid testing. Unfortunately for fans, this also means less exciting baseball games with fewer home runs.
Fewer home runs means fewer runs, which coupled with longer games means a sport some find less exciting.
Nobody wants steroids in baseball. But fans do enjoy home runs. It may be time to find a way to bring the long ball back to baseball.
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