Farhan Zaidi's reason for MLB offensive decline not deadened baseballs

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Zaidi's reason for MLB offensive decline not deadened baseballs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Farhan Zaidi has a very sensible view on an issue throughout the game of baseball.

Shocking, right?

With the first month of the 2022 MLB season almost in the books, one storyline that has dominated news around the league, is the decline in offensive production, specifically the home run ball.

As of Thursday, teams were averaging 0.90 home runs per game, a drop from the 1.22 mark posted last year and 1.39 in 2019 (h/t CBS Sports). For a bit of backstory, in 2021, MLB used a combined collection of baseballs manufactured for the current season and leftovers from the previous shortened 2020 season due to production issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This season, however, MLB is back to using baseballs from just one manufacturer.

Have the baseballs been "deadened" as many speculate, or do the humidors installed in 20 additional stadiums around the league play a role?

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joined KNBR 680's "Tolbert & Copes," on Thursday, where he discussed the declining offensive numbers and what might be some realistic factors.

"I really think it's been a combination of things so far this year with the offense being a little bit down," Zaidi said. "I mean, look, I am not a conspiracy theorist by nature. I don't think it's in Major League Baseball's interest to deaden the ball, you've got all these fans groaning every time a ball is hit to the warning track. I don't see anything intentional there, it's possible the production process something happened and the ball are deader. I think the humidor actually, standardizing that, has a good amount to do with it. We'll just have to see as we get a bigger sample when the weather warms up if things normalize a little bit."

One of the more realistic factors for an early decline in offense is the human element. With a shortened spring training, hitters had less time to prepare for the start of the season. Pitchers, on the other hand, generally need less time to prepare.

"We also had a shorter spring training and they always say that the pitchers are ahead of the hitters so maybe we're seeing a little bit of that," Zaidi added. "We've had our better hitters get off to slow starts even though our offense overall has been pretty good. What I think is interesting, is if this winds up being a sustained thing, I think it might actually change pitchers' aggressiveness as opposed to hitters.

"If you're a hitter ... I guess you can bunt more but there's not that much more that you can do if the ball isn't traveling as far. Your process is the same. If I'm a pitcher and I know that if I make a mistake, the ball might die on the track and I'll attack the zone more and that's something we preach to our pitching staff in general but I think if we continue to see offense down it's all the more reason not to give free passes and go right after hitters."

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More than likely, Zaidi is correct in speculating that multiple factors could be at play. Between the delayed start to spring training, the additional humidors and the weather, all three certainly could play a role in an early drop in power across the league.

For a Giants team that hit a franchise-best 241 home runs last season, they will need a similar level of thump to return to the lineup soon if they hope to compete in an ultra-competitive NL West division.

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