“Juiced” baseballs generate more home runs

The smallest change to the laces in the MLB have led to a surge in deep flys hit

The Major Leagues are open about using a new baseball for the 2020 season

SBNation

The Major Leagues are open about using a new baseball for the 2020 season

Hayden Cole, Staff Reporter

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1928 was the first year that the total home runs in the MLB reached over 1000 or more. Nowadays, those numbers reach up to more than 6000. Although the advances of technology have helped a lot with those numbers and different techniques, that type of jump is jaw-dropping. In 2019, 6776 home runs were hit and the year before there were only 5585 hit. For a while during the 2019 season, there was some  speculation that the MLB was “juicing” their baseballs to increase production and bring in more people and viewers. 

It has raised some issues around the league as MLB pitchers are saying how unfair it is. Think of good hitters like Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna, Bryce Harper, etc. They already have the power to knock one over the fence, but now with “juiced” balls, they get that extra advantage over the pitcher. From a pitcher’s point of view in the league, it’s a very great point and should not be looked over. From a league standpoint, however, the World Series TV viewings have gone way down since the 2016 Fall Classic and that was when the Cubs won their first championship in 108 years so it would make sense that the ratings were so high. With all being said, they need to find a way to make a profit as tv ratings make the MLB the most money, so juicing the baseballs will possibly bring in more viewers and turn into money. 

In a study done at the University of Washington State, baseballs used by the MLB have shown a decrease in “drag,” which then leads to less resistance for the ball in the air, then that means further travel for the ball. They then went on to say that it makes sense about the drag, but there is no way that it’s the only problem. MLB baseballs have been manufactured by Rawlings since 1977 and say that the baseballs were not intentionally “juiced”. Rawlings has also stated their confusion on how scientists have no explanation for decreased drag. The University of Washington State will continue with their experiments as they just received 80 more dozen balls from the MLB.

In reality, there may never be a complete answer to the “juiced” ball problem as pitchers will always complain about the balls or the hitters because their job is to get that person out, if they don’t they can lose their job. However, if the allegations are true, then the Major Leagues will need to make a little change because it isn’t fair that the hitters get an advantage just from the ball having bigger laces. At the same time there are hitters that can already barely make contact and blast it 430 plus feet. Not everyone is Giancarlo Staton and Mike Trout though. It can make sense both ways.

Let’s say that the allegations were wrong and the make of the ball has no difference to the hitter, then what explains such the monstrous amount of home runs? For starters, there are a ton of great hitters in the league and they know how to hit the ball. However, there have also been some players that have had a surge in home runs when hitting balls out of the park aren’t normally their game. For example, Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner hit 14 home runs total in his first three years but in 2018 he hit 19 and 38 in two seasons. For most people, that doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but Turner is very much a speed guy; in his five years in the league he has 159 stolen bases. It’s pretty unusual for a player with fast legs that has that many home runs in that little time. 

In 2020, we may see a new baseball, but there will most likely not be a big difference as the MLB needs to make money someway somehow and if they need to have an increase in the number of home runs, then they will. If there is a big change in the ball, then it will be very exciting to see if the players can surpass the absurd record of 6776 home runs or even come close to it.