NEW YORK -- Major league batters are on pace to hit 600 more home runs than in any previous season, nearly 10 per cent above the record set two years ago.

There were 1,057 home runs in July, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, breaking the previous July record of 961 in 2004.

A total of 4,478 home runs were hit in 1,621 games through Wednesday, an average of 2.76 per game. Batters are on pace to hit 6,712 home runs, well above the record 6,105 set in 2017 and up 20 per cent from 5,585 last year.

Milwaukee's Christian Yelich began Thursday leading the major leagues with 36 home runs, followed by the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout (35), and New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger with 34 each.

A year after strikeouts surpassed hits for the first time, whiffs remain ahead: 28,422 to 28,088. Strikeouts project to 42,607, which would top last year's 41,207 and set a record for the 12th straight season.

The major league batting average was .252 through June. That is up four percentage points from last year's average, the lowest since 1972 -- the year before the American League started using the designated hitter.