Where has all the power gone?

Mark Trumbo is one of the few players who should hit 30+ home runs. (USATSI)
Mark Trumbo is one of the few players who should hit 30+ home runs. (USATSI)

Early Wednesday, Hall of Fame inductee and former White Sox legend Frank Thomas tweeted the following: 

It's a particularly interesting tweet, considering the outburst of home runs from Tuesday's game. But is it accurate?

YearGamesHome runsHR/G
2014 230 195 0.84
2013 4862 4661 0.95
2012 4860 4934 1.01
2011 4858 4552 0.93
2010 4860 4613 0.94
2009 4860 5042 1.03
2008 4856 4878 1.00
2007 4862 4957 1.01
2006 4858 5386 1.10
2005 4862 5017 1.03
2004 4856 5451 1.12
2003 4860 5207 1.07
2002 4852 5059 1.04
2001 4858 5458 1.12
2000 4858 5693 1.17
1999 4856 5528 1.13
1998 4864 5064 1.04
1997 4532 4640 1.02
1996 4534 4962 1.09
1995 4034 4081 1.01
1994 3200 3306 1.03
1993 4538 4030 0.88
1992 4212 3038 0.72
1991 4208 3383 0.80
1990 4210 3317 0.78

Looking at the data from 1990 (when Thomas debuted) to today, it appears that's not the case at all. Now, I didn't measure exactly what Thomas was talking about. I looked at home runs over the full season, not just in April. I suppose there's a chance that as the home run rate climbs in the summer months, Thomas could wind up being correct by the end of the season. Color me skeptical, though.

What the above chart shows is that we're on a pace to see the lowest home run rate since 1992. Power is more scarce now than it was throughout the 2000s, which means it's also harder to come by in Fantasy leagues. This is perhaps somewhat obvious, as most of the big home run hitters are selected early, but the decreasing trend of power could actually boost the value of guys like Mark Trumbo or Chris Carter, who were likely drafted in the mid-to-late rounds of drafts. Even, gulp, Adam Dunn could have slightly increased value. 

That's not to say you should go out an deal for those guys immediately, and power isn't the only way to win a Fantasy league. It is the preferred way to go, of course, as home runs contribute to multiple offensive categories. It's just a signal that we're probably not going to see as many 30+ home run hitters as we've seen in the past. Hopefully, you hoarded power in your draft, because it's becoming much harder to replace. 

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