Combating Home Run Inflation

 Written by Josh Smith (@HWLcommissioner)  |  Commissioner and Author/Editor  |  01.24.2014

Last month I presented my Opening Arguments for switching to the yellow bat for the 2014 season. We looked at the pros and cons of making the switch and I am of the opinion that the benefits for switching are undeniable. Call me biased but I think it's high time we get on the same page as the rest of these leagues. But if my opening argument was not enough perhaps you need more convincing. That's fine. So in this article I am going to talk exclusively about the sheer number of home runs we hit in 2013 as a league (including the playoffs but excluding fall ball). Examining these numbers should make everyone reading this understand that we are hitting...dare I say...too many home runs.

If you'll remember from last summer, we examined the performances of the black bats vs the yellow bat and the results were telling. We found that while the yellow bat hit balls a maximum of approx. 123 ft, the black bats (Easton Pro Stix 3000 & the Louisville C271) hit the balls between 140 and 150 ft. Granted that was using lob pitching but the difference is presumed to be the same (or possibly more divided) with pitches at a higher velocity. More importantly, we found that hitters were 33% more likely to hit a home run with the black bat than with the yellow bat. And when you consider that we hit 321 home runs in 2013 that means a lot. We hit an average of 24.6 home runs per week and 4.28 per game. That's insane. The most home runs hit in a game was on April 16th when the Pink Penguins played the Holy Balls. In honor of the date both teams hit a combined 16 home runs, setting a league record for most home runs ever hit in a game. I hope we never break that record. Games like that make it look like we are more of a home run derby instead of a competitive league. Below I have charted the amount of home runs we hit throughout the 2013 season. The average amount of home runs hit during the season was 24.6 (as represented by the red line). You'll notice that home runs did seem to level off towards the end of the season but that is mainly due to 2 forfeited games for Week 8, Week 9, & Week 11. The league hit an above average amount of home runs during 7 of the 13 weeks that are charted.

Last summer I also analyzed the numbers of home runs hit by other leagues in 2012. The list of leagues included both yellow bat leagues and leagues that used other bats. The average amount of home runs hit by any league was about 314. But some of the leagues that brought that number up (ORWBL, KWL, and others) play over 30 games a season and therefore have more opportunities to hit home runs. Many of the leagues that hit the most home runs happened to use the yellow bat. But in 2012 we hit less than 20 home runs and had some of the fewest league-wide home runs in the entire country and in one year we rose to an above average amount. That sudden change is expected to snowball in 2014 if we don't make the change to curb the problem. We will definitely hit close to 500 home runs if we don't. ERAs will balloon to new heights and mercy ruled games will increase. We had 19 games (out of 75) that ended in mercy ruling and only 4 games in the entire season that finished without anyone hitting a home run. I'm not saying hitting a home run is fraudulent but what I am saying is that we are robbing ourselves of some good games with closer scores that can bring out the best in the competition. We rarely saw that bottom of the fifth inning, full-count, game is on the line situation last year. Do we really want to continue pursuing a course that will almost certainly lead to additional football scores and offensive domination? Or do we want to see a rise of a new era where pitching, defense, smart base running, team work, and small ball play a crucial factor in the game? If we pursue the latter there will still be plenty of home runs. What do we have to lose?

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