Beginning almost directly after last year’s All Star Break, and surging through the playoffs, there was a clear uptick in home runs in 2015. The 2014-2015 spike in runs per nine innings (4.07 runs/9 to 4.25 runs/9, respectively) is the largest single season spike since the 2005-2006 seasons.
The HR/contact rate was higher last August and September than it has been in any month since August 2004.
The average exit velocity (the speed of the ball upon contact) increased at a rate unseen in any recent season.
There is no way around it, there was a definitive uptick in power, runs and home runs last season. The question is why and is this newfound power here to stay?
As you may have deduced from the source of the charts above, FiveThirtyEight.com has done some serious due diligence on this topic. And guess what? No one knows. The weather, the strike zone, the balls themselves are all possible culprits, but none of them are the sole reason for the power surge and likely are not major contributors according to the article. The fact that there were a record amount of power hitting rookies that came up last season could be a factor, but again, not the only one. Perhaps the increased amount of pitchers “phoning it in” toward the end of the season as playoff chances wane or an increase in elite starters getting more rest days could also be a factor, but both tend to happen at a similar rate every season. The nerds at FiveThirtyEight can’t claim any one variable made the difference, so my best guess is that the combination of some or all of them has to be the reason.
As the article suggests, there is only one way to know for sure if the power is back for good and that is MORE BASEBALL! Bring. It. On.