(CBS Local/CBS Los Angeles)- Major League Baseball has been experiencing a power surge over the last few seasons will balls flying out of the ball park at rates higher than any time in history. A big part of that power surge has been Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell who is in the midst of a break out season. But, while the league and Bell have plenty to celebrate, Monday was a day of mourning after the news broke that Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had died. Those three stories are the focus of this week’s baseball report.
The month of June saw a new record number of long balls hit with teams combining to smack 1,142 balls out of the park, seven more than were hit in the month of May.
The record number of homers is just a continuation of the trend of recent years as five of the top six months for homers have come in the last three years. After May and June of this year, the months with the most home runs in MLB history are August of 2017 (1,119), June of 2017 (1,101), May of 2000 (1,069) and May of 2017 (1,060).
The record-setting month is part of what looks to be a record-setting season for the league in number of souvenir balls for the fans. Through Sunday’s action, teams had hit 3,421 homers in 1,255 games good for a rate of 2.73 per game. That mark is 19% up from June of last year and it puts the league on pace to hit 6,624 home runs over the course of the full season. That would be a full 519 long balls ahead of last year’s record of 6,105.
Josh Bell Continues To Mash
One of the players contributing to the home run bonanza this season is Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell. The 26-year-old swatted three more home runs in Monday night’s win over the Chicago Cubs bringing his season total to 25 just one shy of his career best mark of 26 set back in his second season. The former 2nd round pick of the Pirates in the 2011 Draft is having a break out season overall combing power with average as he is hitting .308 with a .381 on-base percentage both of which are career highs.
All of the home run mashing has earned Bell a spot in the Home Run Derby set to take place on Monday July 8th at Progressive Field in Cleveland as part of the All-Star festivities. He will be going up against some fellow sluggers as Mets rookie Pete Alonso, Indians first baseman Carlos Santana, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna have all confirmed they will be participating.
MLB Mourns the Loss Of Tyler Skaggs
The baseball world was struck by tragedy on Monday night when the Los Angeles Angels announced that starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs had died at the age of 27. The team released a statement saying that, “Tyler has and always will be an important part of the Angeles family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Carli and his family during this devastating time.”
Skaggs was a first round pick of the organization back in 2009 and he spent his entire professional career with the team. Fans showed up in force at Angels Stadium to make a makeshift memorial for Skaggs after learning of the news. Players and teams from around the league also offered their condolences to the Angels organization and the Skaggs family for a life ended too soon.
The Southlake, Texas Police Department released a statement on the matter saying that no foul play is suspected but the investigation is ongoing.