Arizona Diamondbacks: Club keeping pace in home run derby

Jake Lamb is on pace to hit 20 home runs before the Al-Star game. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Jake Lamb is on pace to hit 20 home runs before the Al-Star game. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Home runs are a large part of the offensive threat from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Nearing the half-way point of the major league season, the Arizona Diamondbacks, along with with most teams, are hitting home runs at a prodigious pace. The Diamondbacks are up there with several teams, and with little exception.

Through their first 73 games, the Diamondbacks hit 99 home runs as a team. That’s an average of 1.36 home runs per game. With 16 games left before the All-Star Game, that puts the Diamondbacks on pace for over 120 home runs before the break.

The Diamondbacks’ highest number of home runs in the first half of the season is 118. That was set in 1999 and tied again in 2001. The 2001 season ended with the franchise’s only World Series title.

For 2017, the entire league is on pace to hit 3,248 home runs by the All-Star Game. It’s the second highest number of home runs prior to the Mid-Summer Classic.

The only season with a high number of home runs in the first half was 2000 with 3,312, and that was a year in the peak of the steroid era.

Some are predicting the league to out-hit any previous home run record. Some are drawing the conclusion that the baseballs are juiced.

Maybe it’s the StatCast era. In this age of analytics, hitters have more data at their fingertips to correct their swing and understand propensities of the opposing pitchers.

It comes down to the fact that baseball is entering a new era. This could be interpreted as an era of power, at the plate and on the mound, without the use of PED’s.

From the Chicago Cubs’ exciting run to a curse-breaking World Series, to Latin America’s contagious passion with baseball, the evidence for a new era is overwhelming.

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As the Washngton Nationals’ Bryce Harper and the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout cruise into their prime, rookies like the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge are providing the league with an impressive range of superstars.

So far in the current decade, there is no evidence of the wide-spread abuse of the 1990s. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt and third baseman Jake Lamb, the team’s home run and RBIs leaders, remain productive and free from questioning about abuse.

Going into the All-Star break, Goldschmidt has averaged just over 18 HR over the last four seasons. Guess how many he has heading into Philadelphia this weekend? That’s right, 18.

Last year, Lamb had a breakout season. He hit the long ball 20 times before the All-Star break. Entering the Phillies series this weekend,  he has 16 now, but is on pace for 20.

Looking at the 2016 season, the Diamondbacks had significant home run counts from Yasmany Tomas (13), Welington Castillo (10) and Brandon Drury (9). 

While no other players have 10 or more home runs this far in 2017, a few are close,  including Chris Owings (9), Drury (8), Tomas (8) and Chris Ianetta (8).

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According to Baseball Reference, the Diamondbacks are on pace to score more runs, hit more doubles and strikeout less often than they did last year.