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Dorktown: 2019 was the most homer-stupid year in the history of baseball

This year’s bewildering home run surge made a joke of the steroid era and all other years that came before it. With the regular season in the books, Alex Rubenstein can finally chart out the full postmortem.

The 2019 Major League Baseball season went absolutely haywire with dingers. Whether you wanna blame baseballs that are smaller, or have less drag, or are otherwise juiced, or batters who just ate their veggies, the numbers are staggering. After turning over any and every rock I could, I found that 2019, in terms of home run output, has shattered historical precedent in virtually every way, shape and form.

For the season, the average team hit 1.395 homers per game, obliterating the previous record from 2017 of 1.256. As a look at this chart will tell you, 2019 beat every other year by miles, and totally overshadowed the entire “steroid era” of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Prior to the 2019 season, the record for most homers a team had ever hit in a season was set when the Yankees went deep 267 times in 2018 — and the record for most homers a team had ever surrendered was 258 by the 2016 Reds.

This year, four teams surpassed the ‘18 Yanks, while five pitching staffs let the ‘16 Reds off the hook.

But what’s really captivating is the abundance of teams with a ridiculous combination of homers hit and allowed. Entering this season, there had been 12 instances in MLB history of a team surpassing 450. The 2000 Astros topped the list, with folks who watched all their games witnessing 483 dingers. In 2019 alone, 16 teams surpassed 450, with seven of ‘em topping the ‘00 Astros’ previous record (2019 teams represented in green):

Another staggering element to the season was the preposterous frequency with which teams hit at least five homers in a game. There were 114 such team games for the season, which absolutely laps the field from all other seasons:

On a more micro level, I explored four splits in particular: homers by inning, homers by defensive position, homers by month, and homers by platoon, with the 2019 season represented in green.

Here are the historical results for homers by inning:

The results for homers by defensive position:

The results for homers by month:

The results for homers by platoon:

Those are 28 total charts. The 2019 season is leading the way in 27 of them, with only 2019’s first basemen trailing those of 2017 to prevent a clean sweep.

And last but not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t single out one team that warms the cockles of my heart: the Baltimore baseball Orioles of Maryland, who broke the record for most homers allowed in a season in game number 128, and also whom we haven’t picked on enough lately. They wound up allowing 305, with the gap separating them from everyone else large enough to drive a semi-truck through:

They are also owners of two of the three most voluminous calendar months of home run futility in MLB history:

Their starting rotation and bullpen each made history:

Additionally, they allowed 5+ homers in a whopping 19 games:

In fact, not only has no one else ever had a season allowing 5+ homers in even half as many games, but no one else has even allowed 4+ homers in as many games as the ’19 Orioles allowed 5+ homers.

My favorite part of their season, though, might be their stretch from July 29-Aug. 10. In that time, they played 11 games, and they allowed 5+ homers in six of them. Go take another look at that chart. Only eight other teams (Reds, Tigers, Astros, Rockies, Cubs, Rangers, Pirates, Angels) have ever had six such games in a season. Which means 70 percent of MLB teams have never had an entire season with six such games. Again, the 2019 Orioles did so in an 11-game stretch.

Finally, they were 131 games into the season and still allowing two homers per game. No one else has ever been allowing two homers per game at any point deeper than 25 games into a season:

So, yes, with a special thanks to the arms of the O’s, the 2019 MLB season has put an unforgettable stamp on the long ball.