Three Strikes: Last day of the MLB draft was a big one for the long ball in the majors

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MLB may have entered a Home Run Renaissance
Thursday June 15th, 2017

Homer Happy

Kyle Schwarber hit a 467-foot home run in Wednesday’s game against the Mets. It cleared the Shea Bridge in Citi Field, and was the second longest homer in the stadium’s history.

Kendrys Morales hit a home run in the bottom of the fifth against Tampa Bay. It went 465 feet, the team's longest home run of the year.

It’s another night in baseball—big home runs that we obsessively track via Statcast. And it comes on the heels of a report earlier today from The Ringer that balls are being juiced.

Let’s forget about the science for a second. Home runs are up. The league is on pace to break the all-time single season record comfortably. We’ve seen moonshots from Aaron Judge, and everyone from Schwarber to Steven Souza to Jonathan Schoop have joined in on the fun.

Are juiced balls bad for the game? Tough to say. (The MLB declined to comment on The Ringer’s story.)

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But what is clear is that MLB has a decision to make. Fans clearly dig the long ball. There’s a reason Statcast is so popular. There’s a reason there was euphoria in 1998 and there’s a reason everyone loves Judge (and it’s not because of his strong throwing arm).

If the juiced balls are true, will MLB admit it and say: Yes, fans like it, so we did it?

Or, will they continue to deny it and showcase studies proving that point, like they did earlier this year.

Juiced balls or not, the home run surge has gotten attention, especially with the performance of some players, like Judge. Admission of anything probably won’t change that. But potential actions behind the scenes could.

Draft Day

The MLB draft is a crapshoot, especially in the later rounds. It’s hard to say if a 23rd-round pick will make it, or if an eighth-rounder will.

But the draft does have nice stories. Take Chris Singleton. The Charleston Southern outfielder is the son of Sharon Coleman-Singleton, one of the nine killed at Emanuel AME church in Charleston. Nearly two years to the day of that tragedy, Singleton was drafted in the 19th round by the Cubs.

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“It’s a lot of God and a little bit of me right,” Singleton told The Post and Courier. “It’s timing itself up perfectly in my eyes.”

Singleton batted .276 with four homers and 21 RBI this year.

Darren Baker may well be a fine major leaguer, but he’ll probably always be remembered for being picked by J.T. Snow before a collision at home plate in the 2002 World Series. Time goes by fast. Baker was drafted in the 27th round by the Nationals. He’s a Cal commit, and batted .396 with eight RBI at Jesuit High.

Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh’s son, Tyler, was drafted by the O’s in the 36th round. Tyler, an infielder from Angelo State, batted .374/.468/.566 this year.

Will these three players make it? Tough to say. But they are nice stories all around.

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Moving On Up

Chris Taylor stole home in the Dodgers game Wednesday night against the Indians. Okay, it was a double steal, but still. Impressive for a guy who will now be the starting left fielder with Adrian Gonzalez going on the DL (Cody Bellinger moves to first). Taylor has yet to play a full season in the bigs. Entering tonight, Taylor had a .293/.383/.490 line, with seven home runs and 24 RBI. In his last extended stretch, in 2014 with the Mariners, he hit .287/.347/.346 in 47 games.

The Dodgers won’t miss much with Taylor in the lineup, as Gonzalez has struggled. And hey, stealing home a few more times wouldn’t hurt, either. 

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