“At no point in baseball’s history was the home run more of a focal point than during the long-ball era (1994 to 2005). We saw record-setting years by Mark McGwire (70 home runs in 1998), Barry Bonds (73 home runs in 2001) and a 66-homer season from Sammy Sosa (1998), with 11.8 percent of all hits leaving the yard during this 12-year span. Of course, that span also carries another more dubious nickname: the steroid era.” But here’s the thing: Today’s players are hitting even more home runs. Are ‘roids back? Is the ball juiced? Are bats corked? It turns out the homers are being driven by the same forces that drive many modern trends. Big data and better statistical analysis. What did all the number crunching teach hitters? To hit the ball higher. From WaPo: The statistical revelation that has MLB hitters bombing more home runs than the steroid era. (Caveat: To take advantage of these insights, you have to actually hit the ball. Sadly, my little league career largely mirrored my early love life: I almost never got past first base.)
+ Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson simplifies the math and data: “If you look at a baseball field and look on the infield, there’s a lot of players there. There’s not as much grass. But you look in the outfield, there’s fewer players and more grass. So if you hit it in the air, even if it’s not that hard, you have a chance.” (Where was this guy when we needed someone to explain climate change to the Donald Trump?) More from WaPo: These days in baseball, every batter is trying to find an angle.