Surprise power: 30-year-olds tops in HR rate

This season, Thames, Smoak following in footsteps of Trumbo, Davis

Surprise power: 30-year-olds tops in HR rate

Home runs have been on the rise in the last two years with the two highest home-run rates posted in any season since the Major League schedule expanded to 162 games in 1961. But who exactly is hitting all the home runs?

Younger players like Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper have been dominating the headlines lately, but as it turns out, it's the 30-year-olds that lead the way.

In 2016, the group of 30-year-olds were led by the Orioles' Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis, and homered in 3.70 percent of their plate appearances. But the 30-year-olds of 2017, led by a more surprising group of Eric Thames and Justin Smoak, are going yard at a 3.62 percent rate.

Smoak's 20th homer

Interestingly enough, the ages with the highest rates of home runs in both seasons were between 28 and 31 years old, which is widely considered to be players' peak seasons. It wasn't that there was a class of hitters that skewed the data, players actually hit for more power during their prime and consistently hit less homers as they age.

But there has been a recent resurgence of young power hitters that stand apart from their older peers. In 2016, 23- and 24-year-olds homered 3.25 percent of the time, compared to a 2.73 percent rate for 25-to-27-year olds.

Certainly part of that phenomenon is likely because only a handful of 23- and 24-year-olds actually make it to the Majors, so the ones who make it and play regularly are by and large highly touted players. But it really makes one think about how good that generation could be once they hit their prime.

Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, and Harper are great now, but this is likely only the tip of the iceberg for them.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.