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The Decline of the Dinger

Miguel Cabrera, 2008 AL HR LeaderHomeruns are becoming more valuable in fantasy baseball.

That’s because homeruns are apparently becoming harder to hit. Homerun totals in major league baseball declined for the third consecutive year in 2008, even reaching a 15-year low. 2.01 homeruns were hit per game in 2008, down from 2.04 in 2007 and 2.34 as far back as 2000.

“I think that steroid testing has something to do with it,” said Angels’ centerfielder Torii Hunter whose homerun total dropped to 21 this year from 28 and 31 the past two seasons. “If there were guys taking it, they’re not taking it any more.”


Miguel Cabrera, of the Tigers, led the American League with 37 homeruns in 2008. That’s the lowest total for a league leader since 1992 when the “Crime Dog” Fred McGriff swatted 35 for the Padres. “I think its the bigger stadiums,” said the 25-year-old Cabrera. “I think there are a lot of smaller fields in the NL and a lot of bigger fields in the AL.”

Ryan Howard with Jared of SubwayBig Ryan Howard of the World Series champions Phillies led Major League Baseball in homeruns this year with 48 as he hit one in every 12.7 at bats. Howard, 28, cracked 58 homeruns last year, or one in every 10 at bats!

Another first baseman, Mark Teixeira, who split the season between the Angels and Braves, hit 33 homeruns. Teixeira blames the lower homerun production on the baseballs. “I can feel the ball being a lot softer. I can feel the seams raised and the leather not as tight.” I guess that’s another way of saying the pitchers are getting better. Spoken like a true first baseman.

The White Sox led the MLB in homeruns with 235 this season with the Phillies hitting the second most with 214. The Giants hit an enemic 94 in the 2008 campaign.

HOMERUNS PER SEASON

  • 2000 — 5693

  • 2001 — 5458

  • 2002 — 5059

  • 2003 — 5207

  • 2004 — 5451

  • 2005 — 5017

  • 2006 — 5386

  • 2007 — 4957

  • 2008 — 4878

What does this mean for fantasy baseball owners? It means that power hitters are becoming increasingly important in the post-steroid, softer ball era. That should make Ryan Howard even more attractive to you in 2009.

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