We’re seeing a lot of grand slams early in the season

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Red Sox OF/DH J.D. Martinez hit a grand slam during Wednesday night’s game against the Yankees. It’s already the 15th grand slam hit this season, continuing a trend that is more or less in line with the recent home run surge we saw league-wide last year.

I was curious, so I dug into the numbers to see what the home run rate was across the league with the bases loaded dating back to 2000. From 2001-16, the league HR/PA rate with the bases loaded ranged from 2.1 to 2.9 percent. It reached a high of 3.1 percent last year. Entering today, the 2018 rate was 4.7 percent, the highest rate since 2000, when it was also 4.7 percent.

Here’s what that looks like in chart form:

The data:

Year HR PA HR/PA
2000 176 5107 4.7%
2001 134 4625 2.9%
2002 125 4767 2.6%
2003 123 4793 2.6%
2004 133 4949 2.7%
2005 132 4637 2.8%
2006 132 4949 2.7%
2007 134 4993 2.7%
2008 124 5090 2.4%
2009 127 5089 2.5%
2010 126 4705 2.7%
2011 98 4344 2.3%
2012 104 4164 2.5%
2013 96 4187 2.3%
2014 84 4041 2.1%
2015 108 4073 2.7%
2016 110 4298 2.6%
2017 133 4347 3.1%
2018 14 299 4.7%

In the past, we have gone over why the overall home run rate rose so sharply. Chief among those reasons is that the makeup of the baseball has changed, though Major League Baseball is unwilling to admit to that despite overwhelming amounts of evidence. Batters have also, in large percentages, begun utilizing analytics and many — including Martinez — have adopted a fly ball-centric approach at the plate. Those reasons, of course, also apply specifically when the bases are loaded.

March/April is usually when the fewest home runs hit, and the home run rate rises along with the temperatures as the season progresses. If that trend holds, we may be in for a season chock full of salami.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.