Greenberg: Examining baseball’s biggest home-run surge since the Steroid Era

From Neil Greenberg at the Washington Post on March 7, 2016, with mention of SABR members Alan Nathan and Jeff Zimmerman:

Major League Baseball was in a home run recession. Entering the 2015 season, league-wide home run totals had been dropping precipitously, from 4,934 in 2012 to a 20-year low of 4,186 in 2014.

A variety of factors explained the plunge in power. Even beyond stricter drug-testing guidelines weeding out the performance-enhancing-drug-fueled sluggers of the late 1990s and early 2000s, new approaches and strategies were hindering hitters. Higher velocities from pitchers and an ever-expanding strike zone put strikeouts at an all-time high. Managers began treating pitchers as sprinters rather than long-distance runners, calling more frequently to the bullpen for fresher arms with better pitch-placement at crucial times, while front offices focused on stockpiling hard-throwing relievers.

The downward trend in offense was easily understandable. And that’s what makes the 2015 season so mysterious.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 13, 2016. Last Updated: March 13, 2016.