(Actually, probably not, but let's not worry about that right now.)
You may have already heard, but Rob Arthur, Harry Pavlidis, and the team at Baseball Prospectus noted in a feature today that Major League Baseball's own commission confirmed that the baseball has changed, resulting in an uptick of home runs. Simply put, the ball is juiced. Look no further than just last year when the previous record for home runs in a season was reduced to rubble.
I have often seen people point to the 2015 All-Star Break as to when things changed. That's when the home run per fly ball rate spiked from 10.7 percent in the first half to 12.1 percent the rest of the way. No big deal though, right? More home runs are better than fewer home runs, right? No, not at all. And especially not from the Cardinals' perspective.
That pitching staff was one big run-prevention monster in 2015. And they partly did it by not allowing a lot of home runs. Their staff had an 8.4 percent home run per fly ball rate in the first half of 2015, the best in the National League (and all of baseball for that matter). In the second half that slipped to 10.6 percent, good for fourth best in the NL. Sure, fourth best is fine, but best best is better. (Author's note: I am aware of how awful of a sentence that is.)
And you want to know who benefited? Why the Cubs, of course. In the first half of 2015, their hitters had a 9.9 percent home run per fly ball rate, eighth best in the National League. In the second half? How about 14.3 percent! Second best! Remember who we had to play in the National League Division Series in 2015? Those same Cubs. Remember all of those home runs? Remember when Kyle Schwarber parked one on top of the right field scoreboard at Wrigley in the deciding game? With the old ball that would have been a lazy fly to first.
Thanks a lot, MLB.