What happened to J.J. Hardy’s home runs?

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J.J. Hardy has picked a bad time to forget he’s a power hitter. With free agency around the corner this offseason the Orioles shortstop has yet to homer in 47 games and 193 plate appearances this season, which is awfully strange considering he smacked 25, 22, and 30 homers in the previous three years and has averaged 22 homers per 160 games for his career.

Dating back to last season Hardy has now gone 70 games without a homer. Also odd: Hardy, who’s a career .262 hitter, has a .306 batting average and is within shouting distance (.702) of his lifetime OPS (.738) despite the lack of pop.

Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun asked Hardy what’s going on:

I’ve got no explanation. Yeah, obviously, it crosses my mind, but I try not to think about it as much as I can. I think the same approach, hits will keep coming. Honestly, whenever I’ve hit homers, it’s always come in bunches. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. I’m going to continue to try to put good at-bats together and get on base, and hopefully, the homers come. … I feel pretty good physically.

Baseball is weird.

Athletics and Mariners to begin the 2019 regular season in Tokyo

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome.

The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners.

This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous series in Japan, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened their season in Australia in 2014 and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. There has likewise been talk of the Mets playing a series in London, though those details have not yet been worked out. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.

Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.