I don’t need to tell any of you that home runs are up, right? That’s an analytical conversation that has long since permeated the average baseball-ing household. There are more frequent home runs than there used to be. There were signs of a weird spike beginning around the 2015 All-Star break. It’s not because of the ball! At least, there’s no convincing evidence pointing to it being because of the ball. Home runs are just up, and it’s a thing we’ve gotten used to.
There was a time that identifying the home-run spike might’ve counted as groundbreaking. That time has passed. All I’m here to tell you today is that the home-run spike is still spiking. Rates, I mean, haven’t plateaued. They’re still going up. Home runs continue to take offense by storm. Here are home-run rates going back to 1954, with all plate appearances as the denominator:
This current June is the 379th month in the sample. And although this current June still has a long ways to go, it has what would be the highest home-run rate for a month. May would rank third-highest. So, that’s something. But then, there’s also the matter of this — contact has been going down. Here are the monthly rates of plate appearances ending with a batted ball hit fair:
Nothing you didn’t know about in there, either. But now let’s combine the two, looking at home-run rates, with batted balls as the denominator instead of plate appearances:
Just so you know, I went back to 1954 because that’s the first year of Baseball Reference having record of sacrifice flies. Nothing that happened before 1954 would change the overall picture. In terms of home runs on contact, this June would easily rank first. May is in second. April is in seventh, even though April historically has the lowest home-run rates for any month out of the six. Baseball is on its 15th consecutive regular-season month with a higher home-run rate on contact than the previous season’s equivalent month. Homers this April were up 12% over last April, which were up 18% over the previous April. Homers this May were up 12% over last May. Homers so far in June are up 10% over last June. Where we are now, 5.12% of fair batted balls in June have been homers. It’s the first time baseball’s broken the 5% threshold.
April had the second-highest homer rate for any April, narrowly behind April 2000. May had the highest homer rate for any May. June has what would be, very easily, the highest homer rate for any June. It’s enough to make you wonder about July, August, and September. I don’t know where the trend is going to go, but I could offer a guess, based on the fact that absolutely nothing here has slowed down.
The home-run era is welcoming even more home runs. Many people have their guesses for why this is taking place. Nothing, as far as I know, has been proven, conclusively. All that’s truly been proven is that home runs are everywhere. I’d tell you to get used to it, but then, you probably already have.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.