Through two months, the 2019 Major League Baseball season is on track to make home run history. The 1.33 homers per game that have been hit so far is the highest rate of all time.
There are explanations aplenty for this, yet a shockingly significant one is the very existence of the Baltimore Orioles.
Orioles pitchers have already claimed a place in baseball history that they'd rather not have. When New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier went deep off David Hess at Oriole Park at Camden Yards last Tuesday, the fastest-ever journey to 100 home runs allowed was completed:
The Baltimore Orioles have allowed their 100th HR of the season in their 48th game; the previous MLB "record" for quickest to allow 100 HR in a season was 57 games by the 2000 Kansas City Royals. — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 22, 2019
Orioles pitchers have since allowed 14 more long balls to bring their total to 114. One only needs to refer to the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates to find the last time a team didn't allow that many homers over an entire season.
Perhaps it's needless to say, but the Orioles pitching staff is indeed on track for a new single-season home run record. Its average of 2.1 allowed per game points to a final destination of 340 home runs. That would break the 2016 Cincinnati Reds' single-season record by…wait for it…82 home runs.
The bright side for the Orioles is that their 5.84 team ERA is only the worst of the 2019 season and not of all time. It is, however, the highest since the 1999 Colorado Rockies finished with a 6.03 ERA.
The Orioles are also suffering from an offense that ranks 12th in the American League in runs per game. Hence their 16-37 record, which puts them on pace for a second straight season of more than 110 losses. Clearly, this is a team that still has a long way to go with its rebuild.
In the meantime, let's narrow down the root causes of the worst case of homeritis in baseball history.