One of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball is complaining that the baseballs being used this season are juiced. By juiced, he means the ball has been manipulated in order to travel further and easier when hit. This obviously would give batters an advantage over pitchers as they are able to hit the ball harder and further.
Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros has emphatically stated that the MLB has altered the baseballs used in games in order to make the contests higher scoring matches. With attendance being down lately at Major League Baseball games, the league may be trying to find ways to bring attendance back up. One way for them to do this would be to make the games more exciting by increasing the amount of offense or scoring in games. Another way would be raising the number of home runs as the long ball is and always has been a fan favorite.
MLB Bought Rawlings:
Major League Baseball bought Rawlings in June of 2018, a brand that makes the baseballs for MLB games. This does not necessarily mean anything in regards to the ball being juiced. I am sure if the MLB asked the company to make the ball differently in the past, before they owned the baseball manufacturer, it would have done so, as Major League Baseball buys so many balls from them each and every year. Plus, more home runs hit equals more balls sold so I believe Rawlings would juice balls for the MLB if they were asked to do so.
Home Run Data:
There is no doubt that the home run numbers have increased drastically in recent time. Batters have slugged 3,691 homers in the first half of the 2019 MLB season, and they are on pace to hit 6,668 dingers by the end of the year. This would break the home run record of 6,105 wall clearing fly balls that was established in 2017. Home runs are up 60% since the 2014 MLB season.
Possible Reasons for Increase in Home Runs:
One reason for the surge in homers is batters are simply trying to hit home runs more. They are studying analytics such as launch angle which allows them to adjust their swing in order to get the ball in the air more frequently. Another reason is pitchers are throwing the ball at higher velocities which in turn allows the baseball to leave the bat at a higher rate of speed causing the ball to travel further. Players are also getting stronger and working on their hitting more often than in the past. This also could account for more runs in the MLB as well.
I do believe that baseballs have been juiced, and it is increasing the amount of home runs . I understand that pitchers may not like this because it will negatively impact their statistics. Batters will love this because they will hit more home runs or just hit for power more often.
Although this may seem unethical, every team and player is dealing with the same make of the baseball. It may cause the game to be more offensive, but that does not give any team or player an advantage over other teams and players. The game changes over time and everyone must just simply deal with it. Verlander of the Houston Astros is the starting pitcher for the American League in the 2019 MLB All Star Game so things can’t be going that bad for him at the moment.
“It’s a f—ing joke,” says Verlander. “Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you’ve got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f—ing company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it’s not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not coincidence. We’re not idiots.”
He added, “Yes. 100 percent. They’ve been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever. They know how to do it. It’s not coincidence. I find it really hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced.”
“We think what’s been going on this year is attributable to the baseball,” Manfred explained. “Our scientists that have been now studying the baseball more regularly have told us that this year the baseball has a little less drag. It doesn’t need to change very much in order to produce meaningful change in terms of the way the game is played on the field. We are trying to understand exactly why that happened and build out a manufacturing process that gives us a little more control over what’s going on. But you have to remember that our baseball is a handmade product and there’s gonna be variation year to year.”
Joe Maddon joked, “You could just have stamped Titleist on the sides of these things.”
“I hate the way I feel out there,” says Verlander. “No matter who’s the batter, I feel like I’m constantly walking a tightrope, because any batter can go opposite field. Any batter can leave with any pitch that’s anywhere in the zone. You can’t miss barrels anymore. You have to miss bats. There’s been multiple times this year where five years ago I’d probably just throw a fastball away. I can’t do that. Because you’re the 8-, 9-hole hitter and you still can hit an opposite-field homer.”
“It’s a power-arm league,” J.D. Martinez exclaimed. “It’s either a walk or a strikeout — stuff over command. I think you see a lot more mistakes over the plate. The velocity, the guys trying to hit the ball in the air — I think it’s a recipe for home runs.”
“I agree with some of JV’s takes, CC Sabathia’s,” says Marcus Stroman. “I’ll agree with those guys, retweet whatever they decide to put out.
“It’s clear,” Stroman stated. “I’ve just come to terms with it. It is what it is. You can’t control it. So why even think about it?”
“I don’t know if it’s bad or good for the game,” Verlander expressed.“That’s for them to decide. I don’t think it’s great — that the true outcomes of strikeouts, homers and walks is best for the game. That’s for somebody else to decide. I talk about time a lot — how do you stack up in history? If you’re going to change something so dramatically, I think you need to make people aware.”