The Atlanta Braves set the NL record for team home runs in a single season on Sept. 12, 2023. Their 281 home runs topped the 279 hit by the Dodgers in 2019.
The team boasting a full lineup of legitimate sluggers now aims at the all-time MLB single-season home run record. The Braves are on pace for 311 homers, which would be four more than the record of 309 set by the 2019 Minnesota Twins. The New York Yankees hit 306, and the Houston Astros hit 288.
All of those standards – as well as the Dodgers’ NL mark – were established in 2019. Well, what a coincidence.
Party Like It’s 2019
Reports Blame the Ball
The 2019 baseball season seems so long, even though it has just been four years. It was pre-COVID, pre-NL designated hitter, and a year in which baseballs were documented to be different.
An MLB-record 6,776 home runs were hit during the 2019 season. That was an increase of 1,200 from the previous year.
The onslaught prompted studies. One report released by the league in December 2019 ultimately concluded that the increase in home run rates was attributed to an inconsistency in baseball seam heights and players embracing adjusted launch angles.
Ultimately, the study stated that the league’s baseballs appeared to be juiced because the seams produced far less drag. The study concluded that the change wasn’t intentional and was because of normal manufacturing variability.
The pitchers being unable to properly grip baseballs that were slicker and had lower seams and hitters taking on a more all-or-nothing swing tactic led to staggering home run numbers.
Power Surge Solutions
A league committee reported it did not find evidence that MLB intentionally altered the baseballs and believes the inconsistencies were due to manufacturing variability. The balls are hand-sewn by workers at a Rawlings factory in Costa Rica.
Commissioner Rob Manfred vehemently denied that the league purposefully altered the baseballs in 2019. But the difference was noted, and changes were made.
In 2022, MLB announced it was moving to a new, not-as-lively baseball construction. The current baseballs are lighter and more consistent but come off the bat with less velocity. Laboratory reports stated the new balls would fly one to two feet shorter when hit.
281 And Counting
Save the asterisks. What happened, for whatever reason, is in the past. Hall of Fame voters should heed that advice.
Let us step back from the famous viewpoint of instant news and opinions in which something is condemned before a sentence is read and fully understood. Let us look at 2019 through the comprehensive perspective of knowledge.
Also, let us look at the season as an indirect appreciation of the power of this season’s Braves.
Seven Braves hitters have hit 20-plus home runs, including 51 from Matt Olson and 37 from Ronald Acuña Jr.Marcell Ozuna and Austin Riley have 34 homers each, Ozzie Albies has hit 29, Eddie Rosario has accounted for 21, and Sean Murphy has hit 20. Orlando Arcia and Michael Harris II are not far behind, with 17 and 16, respectively.
The Braves could have nine players with 20 or more home runs. They became the first team in ’23 to secure a postseason berth and may very well focus on setting records before the regular season ends.
Main Photo Credits: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports