The 2019 season will forever be MLB’s ‘Year of the Homer’

The 2019 season will forever be MLB’s ‘Year of the Homer’

The 2019 season will forever be MLB’s ‘Year of the Homer’



The 2019 season will forever be MLB’s ‘Year of the Homer’. This is the online version of our morning newsletter, The Morning Win. Subscribe to get irreverent and incisive sports stories, delivered to your mailbox every morning.

This has been a wild season for triumphant and terrible baseball feats, and what’s happening is hardly a secret at this point: The ball is different, and players are hitting a lot more homers.

A lot more homers. The all-time MLB high-water mark for home runs in a season is 6105, set in 2017. The second most productive season, homer-wise, came back in 2000, when players combined to hit 5693 ding-dongs. So the existing record is already far, far beyond what’s normal, and this year’s hitters are on track to hit 6777 homers. It’s so many. If you’re not good at math, understand that 6777 is over 1000 more than 5693, and 5693 was itself already a lot of homers.

On an individual basis, every single one of those 6,777 homers is pretty spectacular. And just as it has been thrilling to watch Reds rookie Aristides Aquino arrive on the scene and start breaking records, it has been phenomenal to see Astros rookie Yordan Alvarez hit like the actual Babe Ruth over his first one-third of a big-league season and Mets rookie Pete Alonso sock 38 dingers to date.

But baseball stats thrive on context, and 2019 looks like so much of a historical outlier that — and I’m sorry to say this — time is going to frown upon these feats. No one’s on pace to break 60 and so we’re not at risk of any major asterisk dilemma, but someday, perhaps in the distant future, some rookie’s going to come up and hit seven homers in his first 10 games. Broadcasts will say, “no one has done that since Aristides Aquino back in 2019!” And you will laugh to yourself and think, “ah, yes, 2019; the ridiculous homer year.”



The 2019 season will forever be MLB's 'Year of the Homer'
The 2019 season will forever be MLB’s ‘Year of the Homer’


Because my guess is there’s no way the league allows this to continue unchecked. I jokingly suggested entirely new balls, but you have to figure the commissioner’s stated hope for more balls in play — and thus more defensive chances and more randomness — compels MLB to get cracking on some solutions with Rawlings.

In 1968, continuing a trend, MLB pitchers became so dominant that the league-wide ERA fell below 3.00 for the first time since the Deadball Era. It was called “the Year of the Pitcher,” and knowledgable baseball fans who see stats from that season juxtaposed against numbers from any other campaign know to mentally adjust.

It’s still outrageously impressive that Bob Gibson should finish a full MLB season with a 1.12 ERA. But Gibson did it in the Year of the Pitcher, so it’s arguably less of an accomplishment than Pedro Martinez yielding a 1.74 mark while pitching his home games at Fenway Park in 2000. For all that baseball fans will regale you about the sport’s hallowed numbers, the way we talk about the sport’s history makes clear that all the numbers come with nuance: Larry Walker finished his career with a higher OPS than Ty Cobb, but no one could reasonably contend that Walker was a better hitter, relative to his era. Walker was a great player who probably deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but he spent a long stretch of his career playing in Colorado, and Cobb spent a long stretch of his career playing before 1920.

What we’re dealing with right now is the Year of the Homer. It’s not the worst thing; home runs rule. But it’s almost certainly not going to last, so my advice is to understand that all outrageous power feats established in 2019 will ultimately be looked upon leerily by baseball fans and just try to enjoy them while they last. If there’s still civilization and baseball in 50 years, this is the type of season your grandkids will ask you about.

“Grandma,” they’ll say, “what was the deal with 2019, when so many dudes smashed so many dingers?”

“Oh, it was something with the ball,” you’ll recall. “And it was honestly pretty dope.”

Sunday’s big winner: Simone Biles

The Olympic gold medalist won her sixth U.S. national all-around title on Sunday and landed an unprecedented triple-twisting double-somersault during her floor routine. You kind of need to watch it to visualize what that looks like, but it’s remarkably impressive. How people develop the courage to even practice such things blows my mind. Right? Even if you had reason to believe you might be able to perform such a maneuver — and unless you’re Simone Biles, you probably can’t — how much nerve must you have to try it the first time? It just feels like so much could go wrong there.

Quick hits: Brown, DeChambeau, Geese

– Antonio Brown isn’t practicing with the Raiders yet due to injuries to his feet sustained in a cryotherapy chamber, but he’s also apparently upset that the NFL will no longer allow him to use an outdated (and purportedly ineffective) model of helmet. In discussing Brown, coach Jon Gruden said he thought the receiver would “play with no helmet,” which is at once both a defense of his character and a glaring indictment of his self-preservation instinct. There’s a lot more on the helmet issue here.


– We’ve got a minor golf tiff, folks. After many complained about Bryson DeChambeau’s agonizingly slow pace, DeChambeau approached Brooks Koepka’s caddie to hit Koepka with a “say it to my face.” It’s not clear if he added, “bro,” but this newsletter assumes he did. Koepka, who definitely lifts, then met with DeChambeau to clear the air.

– In other golf news, Patrick Reed asked his caddie to chase some Canadian Geese off the fairway. The caddie, Kessler Karain, acted with great enthusiasm. The video is quite good.


The 2019 season will forever be MLB’s ‘Year of the Homer’. In Friday’s newsletter, I misidentified the location of the Field of Dreams field in Iowa. It’s in Dyersville, Iowa. Davenport is the home of Modern Woodmen Park, also discussed in the post. Thanks to those that pointed out the error.



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