Vladimir Guererro Jr. put on a show in Cleveland on Monday during the Home Run Derby, breaking Josh Hamilton’s previously held record of 28 dingers in a single round not once, but twice, and hitting an absurd total of 91 homers over three rounds. The baseballs were being crushed off the bat of Guerrero Jr., who is admittedly a beefy baseball boy, as at least two of his moonshots hit the scoreboard at Progressive Field.
“I feel like [the baseballs] will be a little juiced today, especially for the derby, and I feel like if you just put good barrel on they’re going to fly no matter the conditions,” eventual Home Run Derby champ Pete Alonso said during an appearance on ESPN’s set prior to his first round appearance. And juiced they were.
But the concept of juicing the baseballs, which long been suspected and accepted for the HRD, has made its way into the realm of the regular season. Home runs are up 60 percent since the 2014 season, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, and hitters are on pace to hit 6,668 home runs this season. That would top the record of 6,105 that was set in 2017. Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander is not thrilled with uptick in dingers, and believes it’s a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top.