You couldn't go a week last season without a new think-piece or video segment questioning why so many more home runs than ever before were being hit at the major-league level.
There were 6,105 home runs hit last season, about 500 more than any year prior.
We've already seen this change in 2018. Last year, teams hit an average of 1.26 homers per game. This season, they've averaged 1.14. Over a full season, that's again a difference of around 500.
Multiple studies have been conducted to figure out what caused last season's home run surge, with scientists finding material changes to the baseball. This video is pretty fascinating.
It was wound tighter and thus became drier and denser. Those qualities made the ball travel farther and faster.
Air resistance was a major factor. Baseball physicist Alan Nathan headed a commission that found decreased air resistance led to balls traveling six feet farther last season than it did just three years prior.
MLB obviously took this all very seriously, enacting new measures to control air resistance and find more uniform policies for the storage of baseballs.
The other major factor in all of this is the modern hitter's obsession with launch angle. Teams want their power hitters to focus on lifting the baseball because what good is a ground ball from a guy who will rarely beat one out?
Rhys Hoskins is a prototypical example of this. Hoskins has hit the ball on the ground in just 29.2 percent of his plate appearances as a Phillie. It's the fifth-lowest figure in the majors and 15 percent lower than the league average.
This is why strikeouts have skyrocketed, too. Yes, it helps that almost everyone throws in the mid-to-high 90s these days, but pitchers have also taken advantage of the way hitters are swinging.
To combat the launch angle/uppercut obsession, teams are having their pitchers throw more high fastballs than ever before. Why? Because it's hard to lift a 96 mph fastball with a slight uppercut when it's up in the zone. The swing path and bat speed just doesn't connect.
This is why, even though home runs have normalized this season, strikeouts are still at a record-breaking pace. Teams are averaging 8.55 strikeouts this season, by far the most in any season in MLB history. Last season, that number was 8.25. In 2016, it was 8.03. Prior to that, it was never higher than 7.7.
The Phillies are one of the game's main culprits. They've struck out in 26.0 percent of their plate appearances to lead the majors. Those non-productive outs don't matter as much when you're still walking and racking up extra-base hits, but lately, the Phillies haven't done that.
Since May 20, the Phillies rank last in baseball in batting average (.207), on-base percentage (.282) and slugging percentage (.332). They've struck out 183 times to lead the National League and are middle of the pack in walks over that span.
Another major reason for all of the Phillies' strikeouts is their offensive philosophy of working counts and seeing pitches. Only the Dodgers have seen more pitches per plate appearance than the Phillies (4.04). Obviously, the more pitches you see, the better the chance of a walk. But the chance of a strikeout also increases.
For example, the Cardinals (352), Phillies (348) and Angels (346) have worked nearly the same number of full counts this season. But 102 of those full counts have ended in strikeouts for the Phillies, while the Cardinals have had 90 and the Angels 81. Pretty huge differences.
Unless you have the right roster construction, it's not exactly a winning formula, but don't expect it to change all that much because this is baseball in 2018 — fewer teams than ever care about manufacturing runs, and more than ever care about seeing pitches, hitting the ball in the air and utilizing the high heater.