Monday, August 20, 2007

Frank Thomas peers behind the grassy knoll

Give Frank Thomas some credit for breaking out his conspiracy theories about the baseballs being dead this year after he hit a tape-measure home run on Friday.
"It's been a strange season throughout baseball," Thomas said. "I don't want to say anything but I think something's going on with the baseballs. A lot of guys been hitting a lot of balls close to the wall and they're not flying." (Globe and Mail)
It might be tempting to write off Thomas' comments as sour grapes after a less than stellar power season, until you look around the Majors and see all of the other sluggers who are having down years.

Injuries might play a part for some of these guys, but seeing a number of players who will likely not 30 homers this season is definitely surprising.
  • Manny Ramirez - 19 HRs
  • Travis Hafner - 18 HRs
  • Richie Sexson - 19 HRs
  • Andruw Jones - 22 HRs
  • Matt Holliday - 21 HRs
  • Carlos Delgado - 18 HRs
  • Derek Lee - 13 HRs
  • Troy Glaus - 15 HRs
It seems a little odd to us to see this many sluggers all struggling simultaneously, and to see the power numbers decline across both leagues.

It could be (as we speculated over tasty beverages on Friday) that the quality of pitching has finally caught back up to the caliber of hitting, but to do so in the space of a single season?

Supposing that the balls are dead, there would be few teams that would be affected more by this change than the Blue Jays, a team whose offense was built around the big blast.

So, instead of blaming Gibby, Josh Towers, or Mickey Brantley for the Jays' offensive woes, perhaps we should be blaming Bud Selig?

And not to get reckless with our speculation, but do you suppose MLB might have ordered the balls to be deadened as a last resort to slow down Barry Bonds' chase of the home run record?


sager said...

Frank is right... HR for AL teams have declined from 2.25/game to 1.95... run scoring was 4.97 in '06, now it's 4.85.

Stoeten said...

Perhaps you're now really starting to see the effects of guys being off the juice? It's not like their muscles would have deteriorated immediately, it would take time for them to return to a more natural state. No?

I'm not a scientist, but... hmmmm....

Tao of Stieb said...

Yeah, but haven't half of the guys popped for steroids been pitchers?

Maybe it's just that all the sluggers are falling asleep in the on-deck circle because they can't take greenies any more.

Hell, the Big Hurt needs a piece of rebar to prop himself up...he's that sleepy!