Blogger Roundtable: Baseball’s Home Run and Strikeout Revolution

In 2017, Major League Baseball has seen new records established for both the most home runs hit and most strikeouts recorded in a single season. Do you believe this is a positive or a negative for the sport going forward?

Eric Bohrer (’21)
I definitely think that this record setting season is a positive for the sport. Whether it was Giancarlo Stanton hitting a home run in 6 consecutive games, Chris Sale tying the record with 8 consecutive games of 10+ strikeouts, or the Indians’ 22 game win streak, there were undeniably more events than usual this season that drew the interest of less dedicated baseball fans. This record setting season is surely influential in growing the sport’s fan base as it shows the side of excitement to a game that many outsiders refer to as “slow-paced.” Fans love to witness the power game, both on the mound and at the plate, so I believe that fans are incredibly excited to see the spike in both strikeouts and homers.

Matthew Vani (’19)
This is positive for the sport going forward. Everyone loves home runs and the rise of rookie sluggers Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger has been great for the league. Giancarlo Stanton has made the Marlins relevant in September for the first time in over a decade. I believe this trend will continue in future and it will help increase the popularity of the MLB going forward.

Scott Symons (’19)
When was the last time you heard someone say that they think home runs and strikeouts are boring? If you said never, I agree with you. Baseball is known for its rich history as the past time of America, but the simple fact is that many people are growing out of baseball. It is just not exciting or fast enough for them. However, watching home runs tower over fences or pitches whip past batters is in one word, exciting. Excitement is what baseball needs and thus these trends are exciting for baseball.

Alexander Flores (’19)
I believe setting new homerun records and strikeout records is a negative for the sport going forward because baseball’s biggest problem is lack of action, and breaking these records signifies a record low in terms of action. Home runs are definitely exciting, but the more that are hit, the less exciting each individual one is. A similar statement can be made about strikeouts. Strikeouts are exciting when a dominant pitcher strikes out ten batters, and you know that pitcher is the best in the game. However, when a mediocre pitcher strikes out ten people, it just seems like hitters are simply bad. What makes it worse is the way hitters are hitting more home runs is they are taking more pitches and swinging for the fences when they get their pitch no matter what the situation is. That means very little is happening on a regular basis. It means fewer great defensive plays, less running on the bases, fewer close plays and less of basically everything. However, as statisticians realize the importance of defense and speed as demonstrated by the Royals, the game should swing back to athleticism. Even more important pitchers will adjust to hitters and start throwing more up in the zone. Pitching still has the advantage in baseball as it always has, and it just needs to make adjustments to the new approach at the plate. These are the conclusions I draw — setting conspiracy theories about the baseballs aside.

Kyle Sargent (’18)
I think it is a general negative. What comes with home runs? More walks and more strikeouts, perhaps the most boring plays in baseball. The most exciting plays are plays with close plays and close tags around the bases.

Trevor Goldstein (’21)
I believe that this is good for the sport. Home runs are obviously the biggest events in a baseball game, so the more the merrier. Seeing players like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge hit bomb after bomb brings excitement no other popular American sport can match. The casual fan comes to a baseball game for the team, but stays for the home run. Strikeouts also have a positive effect on baseball’s excitement in my opinion. If a batter is going to record an out, would you prefer to see him pop out to center field or hit a groundball to second base? Those events have no potential for excitement. Strikeouts can be caused by an amazing pitch or a bad call that merits some arguing, both of which bring passion to the game. After a strikeout, the pitcher can give a mean fist bump or chit chat the other teams dugout, sparking conflict all around. The evolution that baseball is undergoing seems positive to me.

Below are three interesting studies on a significant factor behind the home run spike: the baseball.

Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman: The Juiced Ball Is Back

Rob Arthur: In MLB’s New Home Run Era, It’s The Baseballs That Are Juicing

Alan Nathan: Fly Ball Carry and the Home Run Surge

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