Phillies on wrong side of baseball’s home run surge
While MLB is seeing an unprecedented amount of home runs this year, the Phillies find themselves on the wrong side of this trend.
When the Phillies and Diamondbacks combined to set a single-game MLB record for home runs with 13 combined, it illustrated a more extensive development in the league. Home runs are being hit more often than ever before, even more than the last few years when that was said.
At the end of May, Jayson Stark of the Athletic [subscription required] wrote that the league is on pace to hit 6,516 home runs. This would be about 1,000 more than last year and 2,500 more than five years ago.
This trend extends to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, which switched to using major-league balls this year. PCL teams hit a home run every 24 at-bats this year after hitting one every 36 last season. If that isn’t damning evidence that the new baseballs are juiced, I don’t know what is.
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While baseball is witnessing an unparalleled number of home runs, it is hurting the Phillies much more than it is helping them. Their 85 home runs hit ranks 20th in the league while their 112 home runs allowed are fourth-most. Philadelphia’s home run rates make the situation look even worse, ranking eighth-lowest in home runs per fly ball at the plate and third-highest while pitching.
A microcosm of this trend happened in their record-setting game with the Diamondbacks. Arizona out-homered Philadelphia eight to five and won the game 13-8. Jerad Eickhoff gave up three home runs in a row to start the game and five total in just three innings.
Eickhoff now leads National League pitchers in home runs allowed with 16 all year, even though he spent the first month of the season in Triple-A.
After the acquisitions made during the offseason, Philadelphia was expected to be an offensive powerhouse. Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Andrew McCutchen all offer 20-home run potential, with Harper’s potential much higher. However, Rhys Hoskins is the only Phillie who ranks in the top 30 among NL hitters in home runs with 15. Harper is tied for 31st with 12, while Realmuto and McCutchen are tied for 40th with ten.
While baseball is trending more and more towards home runs, Philadelphia isn’t quite keeping up despite the theoretical power the team has. The pitching staff is a primary culprit as well, so blame can go around. The more the club gets out-homered, the worse the season will go.