MLB Attempts to Explain the Surge in Home Runs: ‘The Balls Haven’t Changed’

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Major League Baseball says that there is nothing different about the balls it uses on the field, despite the sudden rise in home runs across the league.

The increase in home runs has given rise to speculation that the balls used in the league are somehow juiced up. But MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says the claims are false, the New York Post reported.

While noting that this year’s batch of balls have “less drag,” Manfred also says that the process for manufacturing the balls has not changed.

“[Rawlings] hasn’t changed their process in any meaningful way,” Manfred said Thursday during an owner’s meeting. “They haven’t changed their materials.”

By “less drag,” Manfred pointed to a recent scientific report on the manufacture of balls that found that if the “pill” inside the ball is not perfectly centered, the wobble of the ball generates drag as it flies through the air.

“We think one of the things that may be happening is they’re getting better at centering the pill, [which] creates less drag,” Manfred said at the meeting. “In addition to that, there’s all these man-made issues: hand-stitched, where it’s stored after it’s made, where it’s stored at the ballpark, who puts the mud on the ball, how much mud they put on the ball. It’s really difficult to isolate any single cause. But we do think it’s a drag issue.”

Manfred also praised the high number of homers as presenting “a very entertaining product for our fans.”

The highest number of home runs hit in the past was the 6,105 homers hit in 2017. However, if current trends continue, the league will realize a whopping 6,591 home runs for the 2019 season.

Other issues discussed at the owner’s meeting included nets for increased fan safety, the MLB Umpires Association’s call for a longer suspension for Manny Machado, and the coming game to be held in London, UK.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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