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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.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.