Major League Baseball has seen an extreme uptick in home runs this season. With a couple days left to go in the regular season, teams have hit 6,625 home runs, shattering the previous single-season record and leaving many to proclaim that the ball is juiced.
That figure is so out of line that MLB feels compelled to step in. Commissioner Rob Manfred told Maury Brown of Forbes the league needs to “make some changes” to the ball.
“The only thing I’m prepared to say at this point and time is I do think that we need to see if we can make some changes that gives us a more predictable, consistent performance from the baseball.”
There’s been plenty of smart analysis done about the baseball this season. Back in April, just a few days after the season had started, Robert Arthur of Baseball Prospectus noticed that the ball was already acting differently.
Arthur concluded that this had to do with the amount of drag on the ball. The ball was experiencing less drag, allowing it to fly even farther than before.
Dr. Meredith Wills of The Athletic also examined the ball, concluding a change in the seams may have led to the balls experiencing less drag.
That analysis looks accurate now. The previous single-season home-run record was 6,105. That number was set in 2017. That record has been topped by more than 500 home runs in 2019. There have already been 54 players who have hit at least 30 home runs this season. Last year, 27 players reached that milestone. Those figures fuel the belief that the ball is juiced.
Manfred isn’t using that word, but he realizes something is amiss with the ball. In order to figure out what changes are necessary, Manfred will have a group of scientists look into the issue. He expects to have a report on the ball after the World Series.
Ideally, that group will come to the same conclusions as the analysts and researchers who have already examined the issue. While the home run can be exciting, things have gotten out of hand this season.
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