Friday was a historic day for home runs. For starters, Mariners. Minnesota hit their 100th home run in their 98th game last season.(they have 101), joining the 1999
Secondly, MLB teams combined to hit 59 home runs on Friday. That is the second most in a single day in baseball history, trailing only the 62 homers hit on July 2, 2002. Here's the thing though: 16 games were played July 2, 2002, thanks to a doubleheader at Fenway Park. On Friday, only 14 games were played because the Yankees and Royals were rained out.
So far this season a whopping 2,009 home runs have been hit through 753 games. MLB is on pace for 6,483 homers this year -- remember, home run rates usually increase during the hot summer months -- which would shatter the previous record of 6,105 homers set in 2017. Here are the highest homer rates in history:
- 2019: 1.33 home runs per team per game
- 2017: 1.26
- 2000: 1.17
- 2016: 1.16
- 2018: 1.15
There is not one reason for the spike in home runs. Despite MLB's denials, research has shown the ball itself has changed. That doesn't mean something nefarious is going on -- the ball still meets MLB's specifications -- but the ball has changed and it is carrying more, and that equals more home runs.
Also, the launch angle revolution is sweeping throughout baseball. Batted ball data goes back to 2002 and the league's 42.8 percent ground ball rate this year is the lowest ever. Last year's 43.2 percent ground ball rate was the previous low. Hitters are trying to hit the ball hard and hit it in the air, and that also equals more home runs.
The launch angle craze is a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Strikeouts are way up and the league batting average (.246) is about as low as its been since the mound was lowered in 1969. Is that because hitters are too home run happy? Or are hitters home run happy because pitchers are so good and stringing together hits to build a rally is more difficult than ever?
Whatever it is, never before in baseball history have balls flown out of the park at the rate they have this year. Friday was a near record home run day and MLB is on pace to smash the single-season home run record. This is baseball in 2019.