One of the intriguing stories from Major League Baseball so far this season is the fact that home runs are down. According to Codify Baseball, there have been 49 fewer baseballs hit 400 feet or more as of April 21 this season, compared to the 2021 Major League Baseball regular season up until April 15. Meanwhile Jeff Passan of ESPN has reported that home runs are down 5%.
These numbers are actually shocking. There was supposed to be more home runs with the designated hitter in the National League. This is not the case. Instead, games are actually going longer in the senior circuit, mostly because designated hitters are going deeper in the count for their every plate appearance rather than being an easy out. Yes, there is another story that designated hitters have struggled to begin the season, but they are still much better hitters than pitchers.
There are a couple of more reasons why baseball is having a reduction when it comes to home run production. First, it might be taking hitters some time to get their timing down. Remember about the labour dispute that delayed the season by a week and caused disruption during spring training. Yes, we will still get 162 games in thanks to scheduled doubleheaders, but normally players are working on their swing on a regular basis in February and the entire month of March. This was simply not happening while players were locked out.
Another legitimate reason is because relief pitching is excellent. Last season, the San Francisco Giants were the only team with a team earned run average for relievers under 3.00, as they were at 2.99. So far in 2022, eight teams have a team earned run average among relief pitchers under 3.00, with the Giants leading the way at 1.65.