With the 6,140 home runs that were hit in 2017, MLB set the record for most home runs in a single season. The previous record, set in the heart of the steroids era, was 5693.
What’s even more noteworthy, and not in a good way, is that nearly 43 percent of all runs were scored this year by a home run.
Gone is the long, sustained rally.
MLB also set a record for strikeouts in a season this year as well. In an increasingly upward trend, major league teams are now averaging 8.25 strikeouts per game. The Rangers had twenty in one game this year. Ten was their norm for a most of the early season.
The Rangers were the benchmark for baseball, and the benchmark for mediocrity. The third-most home runs in baseball with the fourth-most strikeouts.
It’s now an all-or-nothing game. And that’s too bad.
Add to that the fact that relief appearances are up, and have been steadily increasing, while starters’ innings are decreasing, and the game is getting longer, with increasingly less action.
That’s not a good trend.
In fact, Commissioner Rob Manfred told a crowd of reporters yesterday at the GM meetings that he is going to implement more rules changes to speed up the game.
This season it was the automatic intentional walk. What were you able to accomplish in your life with all those nine extra seconds you saved not having to watch a pitcher throw four balls wide out of the strike zone once a game?
There really isn’t much he can do. He can’t limit how many relief pitchers can come in per inning. For safety reasons, he can’t eliminate, or even lessen, the number of warmup pitches a reliever gets upon entering the game. He also can’t do that for ad revenue reasons. Also, for revenue reasons, he can’t shorten the time between innings. He’s not going to eliminate time-sucking instant replay.
Really, about all he can do is shorten the length of time a pitcher has to throw a pitch. Or limit the number of visits that a catchers can make to the mound per game.
He could also implement a new count where you walk with three balls or strike out with two strikes like in slow pitch softball. He could also add one extra infielder and one extra outfielder to eliminate time-wasting basehits. Just get the home run out of the way and be done. Also, it would be quicker if the batter didn’t leave the batters’ box. He just swung and if it goes out, he takes his seat without having to circle the bases. If it doesn’t go out, he’s out. Cutting the game down to six innings would make the games go quicker. That would also cut down on Tommy John surgeries since the starting pitcher would have to go just three innings. Think of the time savings that the fan would enjoy by not having to sit through injury timeouts while they cart off the pitcher. Eliminating one of the bases would save a quarter of the game. Who needs four bases when three is more expedient? Few people hit triples anyway. And just think of all the guys who would hit for the cycle?
Baseball has evolved into a four-hour home run derby.
Damn I miss it.