Munenori Kawasaki hits first career home run

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Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki hit his first career home run in the seventh inning of tonight’s game against the Orioles. It was a two-run shot to right field off of Tommy Hunter that tied the game at six apiece. After rounding the bases and getting a round of high-fives in the dugout, his teammates pushed him back out into the field so he could acknowledge a raucous Toronto crowd. Kawasaki meekly emerged and politely bowed in several directions.

You may remember Kawasaki when he gave one of the best post-game interviews in baseball history after helping the Jays walk off victorious on May 26.

Kawasaki had entered the night with baseball’s second-longest career homerless streak among active non-pitchers, having racked up 287 plate appearances without going yard. Phillies outfielder Ben Revere leads the pack, by far, with 1,315.

Here’s the full list of players with a streak of at least 100 PA:

Rk Player PA HR From To Age Tm
1 Ben Revere 1315 0 2010 2013 22-25 MIN-PHI
2 Munenori Kawasaki 287 0 2012 2013 31-32 SEA-TOR
3 J.B. Shuck 239 0 2011 2013 24-26 HOU-LAA
4 Chase d’Arnaud 157 0 2011 2012 24-25 PIT
5 Justin Christian 155 0 2008 2012 28-32 NYY-SFG
6 Robbie Grossman 131 0 2013 2013 23-23 HOU
7 Chris Marrero 127 0 2011 2013 22-24 WSN
8 Jesus Feliciano 119 0 2010 2010 31-31 NYM
9 Jordan Brown 106 0 2010 2013 26-29 CLE-MIA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/21/2013.

The Jays, by the way, walked off in the ninth on an RBI single by Rajai Davis. The 7-6 victory was the Jays’ ninth in a row, bringing them to .500 as they continue to gain ground in the AL East. As recently as June 10, the Jays were 12 games behind the first-place Red Sox. After the Sox wrap up their victory over the Orioles, the Jays will be a mere seven games behind.

Update (10:45 PM) — Had to add this in here:

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.