This article is part of our Baseball Draft Kit series.
As you may have heard, power is up in baseball - significantly so. 2016 featured a whopping 5,610 homers hit over 4,860 games, good for 1.16 per game. Only the 2000 season saw more homers hit in a single year. Led by Mark Trumbo's 47 homers, eight players hit 40-plus and 38 hit 30 or more round-trippers. This upward trend started late in the 2015 season, arresting a drought where homers dipped in 2014 all the way down to 4,186, or 0.86 per game.
What has caused this latest, seemingly abrupt power surge, and is it sustainable? It's a fascinating topic and one that affects everything I do in projecting and valuing hitters. The most obvious yet least likely to prove with a smoking gun explanation is that the balls are livelier (and how's that for a less charged term than 'juiced'?). I'm not the first to speculate on that possibility - Eno Sarris in particular has spent a lot of time and detail investigating it. Another possibility is that players are consciously changing their swing path to hit more homers, as the risk/reward calculations in today's game has changed. Paul Sporer from FanGraphs discussed this hypothesis on our XM show, and I've had discussions about it with Sammy Reid from Fantasy Insiders as well. It's also possible that as velocity in the game has increased, so has the exit velocity whenever a batter makes solid contact. There are other good explanations I'm sure, but I don't think we'll