Seventeen years after last toppling it, baseball has broken the single-season home run record with weeks to spare before the season wraps.
With a home run from the Royals’ Alex Gordon against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, the league has officially surpassed the record and has plenty more games to go to continue adding to the tally.
Detroit’s Alex Presley was the batter to tie the record, which might be the most obscure fact you could possibly need to know for a trivia round in the future.
All season there have been signs that the current record of 5,693 total dingers for the year would be broken, with the (alleged) alteration of baseballs and the hot bats of players like Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Giancarlo Stanton, and J.D. Martinez, plus the late-season boost from newcomers like Rhys Hoskins and Matt Olson.
The home run rates have been rising for more than two years now — since the 2015 All-Star break — but this year’s home runs per game rate will shatter the previous record. The rate is currently at 2.52 home runs per game (1.26 per team), which compared to 2000’s record rate of 2.34 per game (1.17 per team) is a significant increase.
Over the last three seasons, since a significant low in 2014, the home run rate has increased by a whopping 47 percent.
According to NBC Sports, Commissioner Rob Manfred continues to deny any significant changes to baseballs but doesn’t have a specific reason for all the extra dingers this year.
“I don’t think that we are ever going to have a single explanation for exactly why we’ve see so many. But players are bigger and stronger. They’re playing a little differently, in terms of the way they swing. Pitchers throw harder. The one thing I remain comfortable with: Nothing about the baseball, according to our testing, is materially different.”
Of course the 2000 season matches up with the height of the Steroids Era, so suspicions arising now about what could be causing this increase isn’t very surprising.
Manfred also acknowledged that the the league could be missing something with its current testing guidelines but it’s are doing everything it can to make sure that isn’t happening and that the steady increase in the home run rate is happening through natural player strength.
With home runs across the league up, it’s no surprise that the number of players with a lot of home runs has also risen from last year. Before Tuesday night’s games started, 108 players had 20 home runs or more — no thanks to the Giants. That’s only three short of the 111 players with 20 home runs or more at the end of last season.
Before Tuesday, upwards of a dozen players were sitting at 18 or 19 home runs — including Boston’s Andrew Benintendi, Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins, and Detroit’s Ian Kinsler — so it’s safe to say that record will also fall before all is said and done.
Whatever the reason, with nearly two weeks left for more dingers to be added to the long ball ledger, this season won’t just break the record. It will shatter it completely. Home runs for everybody, with a home run cherry on top for good measure!