It’s been an out-of-this-
Each team clubbed four, and for the Dodgers that meant that only one of their hits didn't land over a fence and become a souvenir.
In the two games at
So what's with the power surge? The theories are many.
Pitchers are throwing harder and batters are stronger, so when the bat meets the ball, it’s going to carry farther. Dodgers pitcher
If the axiom that the bigger they are, they harder they fall holds true, the same goes for the harder they throw, the harder they get hit.
There's also some question about the baseballs that are getting hit. Anecdotally, many players and coaches swear baseballs are smaller and harder than ever, with the seams on them flattened, resulting in more carry.
Rob Manfred, baseball’s commissioner, and Rawlings, the manufacturer of the balls, say they are no different than they’ve been in years past.
To this mix add one more hypothesis: global warming.
"I think the heat affected the home runs," said Verlander, who took the mound in 93-degree heat. "Dodger Stadium is pretty famous for, at night, the ball not carrying. Doesn't seem like the case the last couple of nights.
"I went and looked it up."
So did William Patzert, a climatologist with
"The players are on top of it. The physics were there," Patzert said Thursday. "On Tuesday and Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the air was warm and dry rather than the usual damp, cool marine layer. This tilted the game toward the hitters. The science was in place."
Patzert, whose earliest baseball memory is watching the Dodgers' Jackie Robinson play at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, expects the advantage to swing back to the pitchers when the World Series resumes Friday in Houston's Minute Maid Park. That stadium is indoors with a retractable roof, and temperatures will be in the low 70s.
Weather aside, it's not too surprising that baseballs have been flying out of Dodger Stadium at a record rate during the World Series. This was, after all, the year of the home run — the 30 big-league teams combined to blast a record 6,105 homers during the regular season.
The Dodgers provided more than their fair share, setting a franchise record with 221.
Part of the reason for that could be the way hitters approach at-bats these days. Turner is an example. After he was released by the New York Mets, he began working with Chatsworth-based hitting coach Doug Latta, who encouraged the former Cal State Fullerton star to change his swing to launch the ball into the air and generate backspin, which makes it travel farther.
Four years later, Turner is an all-star and MVP candidate.
Teammate Cody Bellinger hit four home runs in his first two minor league seasons, then made an adjustment similar to Turner’s and blasted a
That swing-for-the-fences approach has a downside, though, with major league players now striking out at a record rate as well. The New York Yankees’
One reason for both might be that pitchers are throwing harder than ever. The average speed of a fastball has risen fom 89 mph to just a tick below 93 over the last seven seasons. Some teams have bullpen specialists who come in firing at triple-digit speeds.
And though that makes those pitches harder to hit, when they are squared up, that power benefits the hitters.
Patzert, the NASA climatologist, isn't a baseball expert, but he can speak to the weather. And that, he is sure, has changed.
"On average, L.A. is three degrees warmer than in the mid-'50s due to global warming and the urban heat island," he said, referring to how the growth in population and infrastructure has helped drive up temperatures in Southern California.
"Baseball is being played in a warmer world. Everywhere. This is a smaller impact than better balls, equipment and stronger players. [But] many of the homers would not have made it out under normal damp and cool conditions."
Does that make Fields or Verlander or any other pitcher who has been tagged feel any better?
Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11