41 HR Galore by Bob Ryan

home runHome Runs in the MLB…without question…it’s here…love it or hate it…. But why?

…2015 MLB saw a jump in HR by 723 (17.3%)…the last spike that huge was in 1996 (in the midst of the steroid era) when it catapulted 21.6% in a single season. Only 6 other seasons saw increases of 700 or more in HR, 5 of those seasons are rather easily explainable—one after a change in the production of baseballs, 2 seasons after strikes and 2 during the steroid era that featured Sammy say-it-aint-Sosa and Mark McGwire…that leaves 2015…why? Btw…it appears another increase of 700 HR is in the offing for 2016..

  • Technology…players can now watch, analyze…or pay someone to do it for them.. the perfect “launch angle” for a HR…then the player can go out and emulate that swing..watch it on tape..modify the swing…over & over again until the optimum “launch angle” has been mastered. Charts seem to indicate that launch angles of 26 (plus/minus 5) degrees is the most common for a HR swing.
  • More technology….exit velocity of ball from bat leads one to realize and adjust the speed of their bat as it strikes the ball.
  • Size of the players….each generation, the players get bigger…it stands to reason that bigger men can hit the ball further more consistently than smaller men..in the 1870’s avg MLB’er was 5’8”, in 2000 he stood 6’..average weight went from 167lbs to 190lbs during the same time span. No stats were available on the entire MLB ht avg but the 25 man Cardinal roster avg 6’1” and the Cards have 8 players who are 6’3” are taller.
  • $$$$–this is the biggest reason of all! Baseball mgmt. has decided that they want HR for the fans and couldn’t care less about strikeouts so they pay HR hitters a higher pay scale…therefore…the players reading the MLB tea leaves…now strive for maximum swings on almost every pitch as they work to “hit the dinger”…if they strike out..so what… it’s just another out…hitting for average won’t make you the long-term, mega-contracts that HR hitters (30+) will demand..wouldn’t you do it also? (see below)
  • Equipment…..Some mention of the “new” baseballs with tighter binding that seems to jump off the bat…or the use of ash bats…or maybe its those magical batting gloves that’s providing the extra punch? J
  • Off-season weight training…..Much more intense off-season …and in-season… work to develop, deepen the huge muscular bodies that these MLB’ers now possess….btw … all that muscle mass leads to more “pulls” of tendons, ligaments ,etc that are attaching together and trying to support those now heavier muscle parts.
  • Batting Box décor…pitchers can’t …aren’t allowed …to pitch inside…I don’t mean like Don Drysdale where Dandy Don was “sending a message” about hitting HR off of him…but anything inside is viewed as sinister and dirty-play…heck , Diaz was in the middle of his swing when the pitch hit his hand. Matt Holliday NEVER reacted to inside pitches …he just didn’t expect them…he expected it to be like off his pitching machine at home… a bit of hesitation…fear..in the box…slows down body parts from lunging forward on every pitch.


So…there you have it….home runs are here to stay…your thoughts?

Oohhh… but why no 40 HR guys….you better hit HR in the first 7 innings because HR drop significantly in the 8th & 9th due to the specialized bullpens ….bat those sluggers 1st in the lineup and their HR numbers will bump upwards..like Carpenter does


Now banging around some other long shots around the sports world….

….the Cards have fully bought into the “new” approach of hitting….let the hitters go for the fences….Matt Carpenter clearly has modified his swing; Brendan Moss can’t wait to sign that new huge contract with 22HR(22 of his 75 hits are HR-29.3%)…forget that .267 avg….Randall Grichuk has been told “be yourself”….interpretation….swing for the fences and forget about your average. Tommy Pham’s grizillion strikeouts are a moot point (48 strikeouts in 125 AB-38.4%)…he has 9 round-trippers in part-time play…Jeff Gyorko fits the mold perfectly..does anyone think he’s ever trying to hit anything other than a Home Run?

….throw him out there every day…Seth Maness had 215 appearances in 3 full years with the Cards…almost 72 per year…..most human beings can’t put their arms under that much stress that often and last long…Maness may be back after the Tommy John make-over

…I haven’t watched too much basketball from Rio…but I did catch the USA-Argentina game…some things really stuck out….1) Argentina’s style of basketball was much more team friendly—movement w/o ball, screens, everyone can shoot 3-balls…the USA spreads out and lets the pros go 1 on 1…which they do very well…2) the Argentinian crowd was cheering wildly throughout the game …as if their team was winning in the championship game..it was cool..3) this game signaled the end of Manu Ginobili’s career….the 39 year old guard has been the glue for the Argentina team in 4 Olympics and a star of the San Antonio Spurs…he had a tough time talking through a post-game interview as it dawned on him that it’s over for him on these huge stages…basketball will miss his skill, patience, poise, personality, and team work on both continents.

…Mizzou Tigers Men-B-ball goes 3-1 on a European trip recently….6 different players averaged 9+ ppg… I wish that they had 2 or 3 really good scorers as opposed to the 6 guys around double figures…well…at any rate…let’s hope that things are beginning to turn around for Coach Kim Anderson…or he’ll be turning around his resume…hope that doesn’t happen..

…believe it or not…..Missouri High School football began last night!


  1. John Rocco says:

    Bob, good stuff as usual. Dan McLaughlin and Tim McCarver were discussing one of the points you made about the players look at a strike out as just another out. It seems guys like Gyorko and Pham swing for the fences every time they are up.



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