NEW YORK -- This was a year in which the long ball returned to Major League Baseball. In rate of departure, in average distance and even in Derby dimensions, the home run was an inanimate candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
Only fitting, then, that it would play such a pivotal, historic role here on the October stage.
Monday's four Division Series games didn't just put us on the precipice of a couple of potential NLDS clinchers on Tuesday in Chicago and Queens (both on TBS, at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET, respectively), it also featured a whopping 21 home runs, blowing away the single-day postseason record of 15, set back on Oct. 3, 1995, when baseball's offensive atmosphere was heightened, to say the least. Thanks to that barrage of homers, Monday doubled as the most productive day in postseason history, by a wide margin. The 61 runs scored trampled the previous high of 48 on Oct. 5, 2002.
And just to -- ahem -- go deep with the notion that baseball is increasingly a young man's game, 13 of Monday's 21 home runs were hit by players aged 26 or younger, and six were hit by guys under 25. Not only did the single-day homer record get broken, but so did the record for home runs by rookies in a single postseason, which now stands at 12 (the previous record was nine, set in 2007).
Whether it was the Cubs pounding the Cardinals into submission with a relentless power push, a superlative young shortstop swatting his way to a league record, the Blue Jays belting 'em the way they've done all year or the Mets mashing their way to retribution for Chase Utley's damaging takeout of Ruben Tejada, the homer was the hero of the day.
But before we delve deeper into what transpired Monday, a little context.
The home run was neither dead nor dying before 2015, of course, but it was definitely diminished. The 2014 rate of one home run every 39.56 at-bats was the least productive MLB had seen since 1992. And 2014 darn near carried the distinction of being the first season not to feature a 40-homer hitter since way back in 1982, when Reggie Jackson and Gorman Thomas hit a league-leading 39. Nelson Cruz spared us that ignominious stat by hitting No. 40 on the final day of the regular season.
We also saw the number of 30-homer hitters nearly double, from 11 in 2014 to 20 in '15. There were more than 700 more homers hit in '15 (4,909) than '14 (4,186), and the number of at-bats between homers dropped down to 33.71 -- the lowest such mark since 2012.
Oh, and the new Home Run Derby format was pretty sweet, too.
With all that as a backdrop, it seemed inevitable we'd see more big blasts this October than last.
But get this: In a single day of postseason play here in 2015, there were enough homers to account for 36.8 percent of the 2014 total for all of the October rounds.
The barrage began with Salvador Perez's second-inning blast off Lance McCullers in Game 4 of the ALDS between the Royals and Astros, but the really interesting power display in that game came from a kid named Carlos Correa. Yes, we know how that game ended, and Correa's error contributed, but, at 21 years and 20 days old, Correa became the youngest player in AL history to hit multiple home runs in a postseason game. Colby Rasmus also went deep in that game, and Eric Hosmer's two-run shot in the ninth put the Astros on ice in Kansas City's ridiculous 9-6 win. Hosmer's blast went a projected 452 feet, according to Statcast™, and was the longest of a day that saw more than 8,000 feet of home runs.
Josh Donaldson began the second game on the day's docket with a bang, launching a two-run shot on Derek Holland's fifth pitch of the afternoon. Chris Colabello and Kevin Pillar would also homer off Holland before his brief outing was over, and the Blue Jays used those early blasts to pave the way to the series-tying 8-4 win that sent that series back to Toronto.
That had never happened before in postseason history.
"Pretty impressive," manager Joe Maddon said. "You know, I know the wind was blowing out. We'll concede that. But most of them were properly struck. We are definitely capable of that. Coming into this series -- coming into the postseason -- I thought our guys were rather fresh."
The Cards kept that game interesting with Jason Heyward's two-run, sixth-inning shot off the previously unhittable Jake Arrieta and with Stephen Piscotty's two-run blast in the ninth, but the Cubs held on.
Finally, there was Game 3 of Dodgers-Mets -- a game in which everyone was wondering if the Mets would seek revenge for Utley's infraction with the power pitching of Matt Harvey. Instead, they did it with their power bats. d'Arnaud got it started with a third-inning homer, and an inning later, Yoenis Cespedes would add to what had become a Mets lead with an absolute rocket -- a three-run line drive to the second deck in left that was measured by Statcast™ as having an exit velocity of 110.7 mph and traveling a distance of 431 feet.
It was that kind of day. A day for those who dig the long ball and the runs column. A day when youth served up some big blasts and baseball powered its way into the record books.
And the best part is that the hugest homers have yet to be hit.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. Austin Laymance contributed reporting. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.