It’s no secret that the dramatic increase in home runs this year is likely due to Major League Baseball-owned Rawlings making the balls differently, with the ball essentially being “juiced.” The balls are flying out of stadiums at an unbelievable rate this season — even more than during the steroid era. Orioles’ pitchers have been responsible for many of the homers hit, but Baltimore infielder Jonathan Villar — in another lost season for the team — has done something notable in terms of home runs.
Home run totals in recent years
In 2017, there was a new record set for total home runs hit in a season, when major league hitters blasted 6,105 balls out of parks that season. That smashed the previous record of 5,693 set in 2000. After that record-setting season, the homer total took a dip last season with 5,585 dingers. This year, though, the numbers are back up — way up — as a new record has been set, and it happened with more than two weeks left in the regular season. Through September 13, the number stood at 6,213, and it’s only going to continue going up as the regular season wraps up.
Jonathan Villar hits the record-breaker
A’s shortstop Marcus Semien hit the record-tying home run at Minute Maid Park on September 11 in a 5-3 win over the Astros. Later that night, the record was broken when home run No. 6,106 was hit at Camden Yards in Baltimore. With the Dodgers in town to play the Orioles, you might expect a player from the two-time defending National League champions would have hit the record-breaker, but it was actually an Oriole who accomplished the feat.
In the seventh inning of the contest — which the Orioles won 7-3 — Orioles’ IF Jonathan Villar hit a three-run shot that broke the record from just two years ago. Villar’s homer was his 21st of the season, a new career-high, and the 22nd that was hit in the majors that night. Speaking after the game, Villar said someone told him about his feat after the game, and he called it “unbelievable” and “incredible.” Villar also said he is “excited” that the bat is headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
What was so notable about the record-breaking homer?
An Oriole hitting the home run is noteworthy because they’re not a good team. They’re likely to finish the season around 50 games under .500, if not more than that, and they’re in the bottom third of the majors in home runs hit this season.
More than that, the Orioles’ pitching staff has allowed more home runs than any other team. Through September 13, Orioles pitchers surrendered 280 homers, 32 more than the Mariners, who were the closest team to them. The 280 home runs the Orioles have allowed so far is already a single-season record, and that number is going to continue going up in the final days of the season. Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde was pleased that one of his players hit the record-setting long ball at Camden Yards because he’s “seen enough home runs here from the other side, so it’s nice to get one from our side.”
One team that dominated Oriole pitching in 2019
hThe Yankees dominated Orioles’ pitching all season, as they hit 61 home runs in 19 games against Baltimore this season. Not surprisingly, that is a record number of home runs for one team against another team in a season. The previous record was 48 home runs hit by the Yankees against the Kansas City A’s in 1956, and that was in 22 games — fewer homers in more games than the 2019 Yankees got against the Orioles.