The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
New hitting records occurring practically every day

The offensive explosion occurring in the majors today gets more incredible every day.  Home runs are being hit at a record pace.  Games scores in double digits by both teams are more frequent.  Pitchers’ ERAs are ballooning at a higher rate.  One result of the hitting frenzy is that we are seemingly seeing new records being set every day, largely stemming from the increasing home run trend.


But the records are not related to the traditional batting milestones (such as 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBIs) that take a full career to accumulate.  Instead they are mostly career-startup records by players relatively early in their careers who are leading the charge in the power surge.  There has been an emergence of young players in the majors who have wasted no time getting into the chase for home runs.  There is an open question regarding their ability to sustain these types of performances or whether they are just the latest sensations who will ultimately fizzle out.  (In other words, will they eventually become a Mike Trout or a Joe Charboneau, a one-year wonder in 1980?)


After hitting 28 home runs in the minors this season, Aristides Aquino got his call-up with the Cincinnati Reds and became the fastest (16 games) to hit eleven home runs to start a career.  His barrage included a game on August 10 against the Cubs in which he hit three homers in the first four innings of the game.


When the New York Mets broke spring camp, it wasn’t certain whether first baseman Pete Alonso had a fulltime job.  But when he started smacking home runs early, the job became his.  He gained notoriety when he broke Mark McGwire’s record for most home runs (19) for a rookie before June 1.  Winning the Home Run Derby during the pre-All-Star Game festivities solidified his national popularity and appeal.  On August 18, his 40th home run broke the National League record for rookies.  His 39th had been one of his five hits against the Braves.


Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger previously set the NL rookie record for most home runs two years ago.  He started this year with a bang, setting the record for most RBI (37) before May 1.  He became the fastest Dodger to reach 100 career home runs.  By the All-Star break Bellinger had 30 home runs, breaking a Dodgers record set by Gil Hodges and Duke Snider.


Yordan Alvarez was called up to the Astros in early June as a temporary backfill for some team injuries.  However, he never left the lineup.  He hit a home run in each of first two major-league games, only the 23rd time it occurred since 1908.  On August 10, he hit three home runs against the Orioles and got his 51st RBI, the most of any player after first 45 career games.  In addition to his run production, his current slash line is an impressive .344/.426/.719 for a rookie.


As I wrote in last week’s blog, Bo Bichette is showing why he belongs in the big leagues.  The Toronto Blue Jays shortstop hit a double in nine consecutive games, tying a record by legendary Ted Williams.  He has a total of 12 doubles in his first 17 major-league games.


Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres has seven multi-homer games this season, passing Joe DiMaggio for the Yankees’ record for most by a player under the age of 23.  Remarkably, 13 of his 29 home runs this season have been against the Orioles.  (But then it seems everyone is having a feast on Orioles pitching which is on a pace to yield the most home runs in one season.)  Torres is the first player since Roger Maris (versus the White Sox in 1961) to accomplish this.


New technology in baseball, such as Statcast, is capturing and making available batting data that is helping to popularize the home run craze.  Exit velocity, launch angle, and distance are the new buzzwords that are utilized to quantify the monstrous home runs that are being hit.


On June 21 Texas Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara hit the longest home run (505 feet) of the season, which tied him with Trevor Story for the longest ever hit in the Statcast era (beginning in 2015).  Mazara also has the third-longest this season at 482 feet.  Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber hit the longest grand slam (473 feet) tracked by Statcast.


Giancarlo Stanton has hit the home run with the highest exit velocity (120.6 mph) so far this season.  It’s his fourth consecutive season to lead in this stat.


As part of the home run onslaught, individual performances that used to be relatively infrequent are occurring with more regularity, including players hitting for the cycle and hitting three homers in a game.


Trea Turner hit for the cycle for the second time in his career on July 23.  He is the 26th player in history to have multiple cycle games.  Shohei Ohtani became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle on June 13.  Jorge Polanco hit for the cycle while going 5-for-5 on April 5.  Other players that hit for the cycle include Jake Bauers and Jonathan Villar.  Twenty players have hit three home runs in a game this season.  Nelson Cruz did it twice within 12 days in July and August.  Rookie Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of Carl Yastrzemski, hit three on August 16.


In addition to the individual records being set, a number of franchise-related milestones are being passed.


During the Red Sox-Yankees series in London, the Yankees recorded a home run in their 31st consecutive game.  The Phillies and Diamondbacks set a major-league record on June 10 when they combined for 13 home runs in a game.  The Minnesota Twins are on a pace to hit the most home runs in a season.  They were the fastest team (103 games) to reach 200 on July 26.


There are six weeks left in the regular season.  There’s still a lot of baseball to be played.  Who knows what other new records we’ll see?


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