Because there is no sample size too small no matter what statistically-based analysts might argue, the first projection du jour of the new baseball season is that the 30 major league teams will combine to crack the 7,000-home-run barrier this year.
This is a ridiculous assertion given that the leagues combined to just break the 6,000-homer barrier a year ago (6,105, or nine percent more than in 2016). Nine percent more than 6,105 is barely 6,500.
But then you see the way baseball is clearly progressing, Three True Outcomes-wise, and then you see that fully 15 percent of all fly balls on Opening Day ended up as home runs (33 of 218, or 15.1 percent) – six alone by those power-hitting juggernauts, the Chicago White Sox.
Will this level off? Oh, most likely. Nothing regresses to the mean quite like a 2,430-game season.
But home runs, strikeouts and walks have and are continuing to spike as the game moves toward launch angles and velocity off the bat, and hitting is being taught with those virtues as a core to the new philosophy.
And they’re not wrong – at least not until they end up being wrong, anyway, because baseball innovates its core theories more than any other sport. This seems counter-intuitive for a sport that is so deeply generational (read: skewing toward old folks), but having taken the lead in metrics-based theorems, baseball has cycled through them frantically in search of the next great catch-all metric.
And you’ll notice I haven’t even gotten to the plutonium core of the baseballs themselves, or the next generation of PEDs that will emerge the next time someone is too lazy to destroy the paperwork, as BALCO was back in the day.
Thus, home runs are going to be more plentiful, and there is no constituency inclined to try to brake that march. The A’s are in the mainstream here, and even the Giants in their massively humble way are doing their best: Joe Panik homered for the Giants’ only run off Clayton Kershaw Thursday. Frankly, just making contact is for squares – again, until someone figures out how to make that a better idea than swinging from the arse.
So I’m saying 7,000 homers. Toward that end, Matt Davidson is on a pace for 486 and Giancarlo Stanton and Tim Anderson for 324. Hell, that’s 1,134 right there. Like I said, small sample size is a dirty Bolshevik lie.