Framing the Friars: The Ball is Juiced?

Source: Jon Durr/Getty Images North America

Following a three-game home sweep against the Cincinnati Reds, the San Diego Padres came into Miller Park on Friday with confidence. The Padres wasted little time jumping on Brewers’ starter Junior Guerra early.

After the first two batters reached on an outfield misplay and a walk, the struggling Wil Myers stepped to the plate. And he did not disappoint, as the right-hander launched an absolute moon shot over the outfield wall in center. This was Myers’ first home run since June 2, and only his third home run in the last 30 days.

That pitch was somewhat on the inner part of the middle of the plate, which is right where Wil Myers likes it, as the slugger has a .333 batting average on pitches right down the middle, and a .591 batting average on pitches on the inner third in the same location.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant

After a foul pop out from Yangervis Solarte, Hunter Renfroe had a power display of his own, launching a solo home run deep to left field.

Fast forward to the bottom of the second, and the Milwaukee Brewers got one run back on a big fly from former Boston Red Sox player, Travis Shaw.

As you can see above, Hedges set up low and away, and Diaz missed just about as much down the middle as you can with a 95 mph fastball. The rookie Rule 5 selection is going to have to learn to not make that mistake, especially against left-handed hitters with lots of power.

After a fairly uneventful third inning and top of the fourth, the Brewers would strike again in the bottom of the fourth. After a leadoff walk followed by a fielder’s choice and a single, Keon Broxton stepped up to the plate, and promptly tied up the game.

Once again, Miguel Diaz made the mistake of letting one of his mid-90s fastballs catch too much of the plate, and Broxton did not miss it, as he drove the ball 425 feet with an exit velocity of 106.8 mph. After giving up a triple in the fourth inning, Miguel Diaz’s night would be over after just three and 1/3 innings.

After three straight scoreless innings on both sides, Yangervis Solarte broke the tie for the Padres with a towering drive into right field.

However, in more tough luck for the Padres, the Brewers would respond yet again with yet another home run, this one by Manny Pina, tying the game at five. This time a slider left right down the middle by Kirby Yates.

After a scoreless ninth inning, the game headed to extra innings, where the Padres went down in order against right-hander Jared Hughes in the top half of the tenth. Now onto their sixth pitcher, the Padres brought in left-hander Ryan Buchter to pitch the bottom of the tenth inning. Yes, Ryan Buchter who has a 54 percent fly ball rate to begin the season to go along with a nearly 15 percent HR/FB ratio. Leading off the inning, was big slugger Eric Thames. You can see where this is going.

So all in all the two teams combined for seven home runs, as all eleven runs in the game were scored via the home run ball. We had two three run shots to go along with five solo shots. Following last night’s action, the National and American Leagues have combined for 2510 home runs through nearly half of the season. If the current pace continues, Major League Baseball is set to shatter the previous single season, league-wide home run record of 5,693, which was set in the year 2000 at the height of the “steroid” era.

There has been lots of talk about whether or not the ball has been juiced over the last several years, as well as some evidence that that may be the case. It remains to be seen if this trend continues through this season and in following seasons, but it was truly on full display at Miller Park on Friday night.

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Patrick Brewer
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-three years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.

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