MORE COVERAGE: 2012 Summer Collegiate Player of the Year, Sean Manaea
Increase in Home Runs
Story of Summer-League Season
2012 summer-college league season is officially over, and it’s
readily evident what the overriding story line was for the
and plenty of it!
was a dramatic spike in offensive production in many of the nation’s
top leagues this summer, specifically in the number of home runs that
were launched. Numerous league, team and individual home-run records
fell as the volume of long balls increased exponentially from 2011.
the Cape Cod League, the nation’s premier summer league, the number
of home runs jumped to 382 in the regular season, more than the two
previous seasons combined. In 2011, just 159 home runs were hit by
Cape players; in 2010, 158.
broke the old Cape single-season record of 59 (set in 1981 by Orleans
during the league’s aluminum-bat era) by clubbing 64. Every team in
the league saw a dramatic increase in home-run production with the
exception of Chatham, which led the Cape with 24 in 2011. The Anglers
still managed to top that total with 26, but that figure was the
lowest in the league this summer.
champion Wareham improved from six home runs in 2011 to 51 this
season, and slugged 15 more in seven playoff games. Appropriately,
the Gatemen won the Cape League title in dramatic fashion by homering
twice with two outs in the ninth inning to overcome a 5-2 deficit,
only to launch two more home runs in the 10th inning of an
improbable 8-6 win over Yarmouth-Dennis in the third and deciding
game of the championship series. Gatemen outfielder Tyler Horan
(Virginia Tech) tied the league’s wood-bat record of 16 home runs
and smacked two more long balls in the post-season.
dramatic increase in home runs wasn’t limited to the Cape Cod
League. Almost every prominent summer league saw a significant jump
in power production.
Florida Collegiate League had the collective total of 51 homers in
2011 compared to 158 this season. The Great Lakes League surged from
99 a year ago to 276 this summer, the New York Collegiate League from
117 to 315. That’s roughly a three-fold increase in each case.
sampling of other summer leagues showed the same trend, though the
increase was less dramatic. The Valley League went from 287 in 2011
to 469; the Northwoods League from 599 to 737, the Prospect League
(with two less teams) from 260 to 456, the West Coast League from 99
two less teams, the New England Collegiate League jumped from 291
homers in 2011 to 451 this season. Both Keene and Laconia broke the
NECBL record for homers in a season with 73, with Keene adding 14
more homers in four playoff games. Laconia third baseman Danny
Collins (Troy) shattered the league single-season mark by hitting 19
and also established records for slugging percentage, total bases and
champion Newport scored more runs (347 in the regular season, 64 in
the regular season) than any NECBL team on record, but wasn’t even
the league’s most prolific offensive club. Keene outhit the Gulls
in both the regular season (.314 to .313) and playoffs (.348 to
.328), and outslugged them by a noticeable margin.
reasons have been advanced to attempt to explain the dramatic
increase in offense from last season to this season, and they range
from a drop in the standard of pitching in summer ball (due mainly to
the proliferation of new summer leagues and college coaches
withholding some of their better arms because of heavy workloads in
the spring), to the use and familiarization of the new BBCOR bats
(less forgiving than aluminum bats, but more in line with wood bats
in use in summer ball, thus enabling a hitter to transition much
quicker into summer competition), to the unusually warm weather in
many parts of the country this summer (balls fly in hot weather), to
the baseballs used.
primary reason, according to many summer-baseball observers, has been
the quality of the ball. By almost all accounts, baseballs used in a
majority of leagues this summer were much harder than balls used in
the recent past. The harder the ball, the farther it travels.
of the leagues in question are affiliated with the National Alliance
of Summer College Baseball, an organization that is contractually
committed to the use of Diamond Baseballs. The Cape Cod League has
used Diamond Baseballs for years and went so far this summer as to
study the quality of the 2012 and 2011 balls.
significant difference was found in the quality of the balls. Not
only were the newer Diamond balls more tightly wound, but by cutting
open several balls to compare the rubber cores, it was found that the
rubber core in the 2012 balls were much harder than those in the 2011
should be noted that the Coastal Plain League uses a Rawlings
baseball, and it actually saw a decrease in home runs this summer,
from 406 in 2011 to 263, although the league operated with one less
lends more substance to the argument that the Diamond baseball was
mostly responsible for the substantial uptick in offensive
productivity. No matter what the reasoning, though, it was evident
that the amount of offense in summer baseball was up dramatically in