Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander accused Major League Baseball of “juicing” baseballs to create more offense.
Verlander weighed in on the baseball juicing question after speaking on an All-Star Game panel on Monday, ESPN reported.
“It’s a f—ing joke,” Verlander said adding that he “100 percent” thinks the balls have been juiced.
The eight-time All-Star player has pitched into 26 home runs this season, an MLB high. There have been 3,691 homers so far this season, and statisticians feel that the league will smash the 6,105-hit record set in 2017.
The accusation that the league has somehow “juiced” the balls has been roiling the league since 2015 when hits started climbing exponentially.
For his part, Verlander pointed to the fact that MLB owns the baseball manufacturer as a prime reason to suspect that the balls have been juiced.
It’s a f—ing joke. 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.
Verlander added that “yes 100 percent” the balls have been juiced.
“They’ve been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever,” he added. “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.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, though, has denied the charge that the league has juiced the balls.
Manfred recently explained that there is “less drag” on the balls, but there has been no change in the manufacturing of the balls since MLB took over.
“[Rawlings] hasn’t changed their process in any meaningful way,” Manfred said late in June 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 continued. “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.”
Indeed, Manfred said the increased number of homers is “a very entertaining product for our fans.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.