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Baseball’s power surge continues

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Twins second baseman Brian Dozier homered twice again three times on Monday afternoon, bringing his season total up to 38 and further extending his career-high. He’s also one dinger shy of tying the American League record for home runs hit by a second baseman, held by Alfonso Soriano who set the mark in 2002.

Mark Trumbo leads baseball with 41 home runs and is currently the only member of the 40-homer club. But Dozier and eight others are projected to join him in that club. Two others are projected to finish at 39, so even a slight uptick in power would add to the club. Baseball hasn’t seen 10 players hit 40-plus home runs in the same season since 2006, when 11 players accomplished the feat. For perspective, from 2011-14, there were 11 combined player-seasons with 40-plus dingers including multiple appearances by Curtis Granderson and Miguel Cabrera.

Here’s the list, updated for today’s games:

Player Team Tm Gm HR Pace
Mark Trumbo BAL 136 41 48.8
Brian Dozier MIN 138 38 44.6
Nolan Arenado COL 136 36 42.9
Kris Bryant CHC 136 36 42.9
Edwin Encarnacion TOR 136 36 42.9
Nelson Cruz SEA 136 35 41.7
Todd Frazier CWS 136 35 41.7
Khris Davis OAK 136 34 40.5
Josh Donaldson TOR 136 34 40.5
Chris Davis BAL 137 34 40.2
Manny Machado BAL 136 33 39.3
Chris Carter MIL 137 33 39.0
Evan Longoria TBR 135 31 37.2
Robinson Cano SEA 136 31 36.9
David Ortiz BOS 136 31 36.9
Mookie Betts BOS 136 30 35.7

As pointed out earlier this season, the 2016 campaign is seeing home runs hit at the second-highest rate in baseball history, second only to the 2000 season. 1.16 home runs are being hit per game compared to 1.17 in 2000. 1999 is in third place at 1.14. Only 1.01 home runs were hit per game in 2015.

Despite the power surge, run-scoring is still not close to the levels seen in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, even though we saw increases from 4.07 in 2014 to 4.25 in ’15 and 4.50 this year. That has a lot to do with the ever-increasing strikeout rate, currently at an even 8.00 strikeouts per game compared to 7.71 last year and 6.30 as recently as 2005.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”