Monday, June 26, 2017


One item from last year we left hanging: the Cincinnati Reds' pitchers did indeed set a new major league record for most home runs allowed, with 258. They breezed past the 2003 Tigers, who allowed 241.

Early this year, the Reds looked as though they were turning this around. But as the season has heated up, they've reverted to their old habits. Currently they've allowed 122 HRs in 74 games, which projects to 267 for the year...which would be another major league record.

The margin for error is pretty tight, however--and this year (as you might expect after perusing the previous blog entry...) they have some competition. The Seattle Mariners have allowed 121 HR in 78 games, which puts them currently on a pace to allow 251 HR. The M's have already used 31 pitchers this season, with Drew Smyly still awaiting his season debut. Getting Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma back in the rotation might not actually stem the tide of the M's homer flow, however: both of their long-time stalwarts have been giving up HRs at a strikingly elevated rate this year.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Still too busy to post anywhere near regularly--French noir is a harsher mistress than the moon (take that, Jimmy Webb!)--but here, at least, is a follow-up that will prove suitably astonishing.

Last year (before the undertow made us predominantly AWOL...) we were pretty much first on the scene with the report that pitching dominance in the 2010s had come to a shocking halt. We did this with a look at monthly HR/G totals which showed that something happened in August 2015 to turn the game back toward the HR levels seen at the apex of the "offensive explosion" in 2000.

It was last June that broke things open--and, after a slight dip in July, both August and September remained red-hot in terms of HR/G. (The new revised rankings, including the first three months of 2017, show August and September 2016 as having the highest HR/G for their respective months in the seventeen complete years of data. The month of September had traditionally been a down-turn month, but not last year--the revised rankings show it coming in as #10 in HR/G for the 105 months in the data sample.)

And, as the chart at right demonstrates, that pattern has further intensified in 2017. This April ranks #12 in the data, trailing only April 2000 (#3). May pushed into the Top 5 all time (#4). And with six more days to go in June, it is looking certain that we will have a new #1 in monthly HR/G rankings. Right now June 2017 is shattering the record for HR/G, and even the R/G (5.02) are creeping up toward the averages compiled during the "offensive explosion" years.

[Raw numbers: the average HR/G for the period is 1.04. The current monthly record for a full month's worth of data is 1.32 (May 2000). Our current month of June is sailing along at (a frankly incredible) 1.41 HR/G.]

[Color codes deployed in certain ranking numbers: 71 (May 2009), in red on the chart, shows us the ranking where HR/G avearage goes below 1.00. 96 (July 2011), in green, shows us the ranking where the HR/G average dips below 0.90. And 105 (the absolute bottom of the ranking--September 2014), shows us the only month in the past 17+ years where the HR/G rate slipped below 0.80.]

The big question, of course, is just what happened in August 2015 to turn around the HR/G rate. There have been blips now and again over the 17+ years of data--check out June 2005, for example, and August 2009 was another example of a HR/G spike.

So, to get back to the "if/then" clause in the title block, this should be bringing us another attendance boost, right? Assuming that "chicks" really do "dig the long ball," that is. But at the moment at least, attendance is down, slipping below 30,000 per game. Could it be that all these big flies are getting a bit tiresome?