As a quick follow up to my last post, I would like to add some interesting findings. The home run surge has coincided with the decline of stealing and sacrificing so closely that it’s nearly impossible to tell which came first. However, causation is easier to guess at. Teams are sacrificing and getting caught stealing about 35 less times per season than in the past, and they are seeing about 100 more at bats per season. This might explain a “power trip” of 3 or 4 more homers per year, but does nothing to explain the 45 homer jump we’ve seen in the last 20 years. Players are simply bigger and stronger, for whatever reason, and they hit more bombs. Since home runs are the most efficient means of scoring, this is primary culprit of the increase in run scoring that has occurred over the same couple decades. Likely it is this new-found power that is encouraging managers to pull back on the reigns, and not the other way around.
While I maintain that sacrificing and over-stealing are generally offense killers, this study is not able to show that…I’ll get to that next!