The MLB sent a memo to all 30 teams saying there is ‘no evidence’ that baseballs are juiced. Skeptics, however, still believe that this is the cause of the tremendous upswing of home runs this season.
As the 2017 season comes to its midway mark, one thing is abundantly clear: baseballs are flying out of parks like never before. More home runs were hit in June than in any other month in MLB history, and the league is on pace to shatter the previous home run pace. The league average for home runs per game currently sits at 1.26, higher than any point during the Steroid Era.
How is a ball juiced?
‘Juiced’ connotes a use of steroids because of their rampant use league-wide by batters during the late 1990’s to mid 2000’s.
For baseballs themselves, their ‘steroids’ is simply being wound tighter during their manufacturing process so that they come off the bat with more velocity.
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However, if baseballs are being juiced, we should see a considerable uptick in average exit velocity. According to StatCast, the opposite is true. This year, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has the highest average exit velocity with 96.9 mph. In 2015, Giancarlo Stanton held that title with an average of 98.6 mph. Stanton also generated 10.7 mph more velocity as well. Judge’s average generated velocity is sitting at 8.4 currently.
Changes in the game
It’s no secret that many baseball players today look like the football players of yesterday. Judge and Stanton are two obvious examples.
That being said, a study by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman of The Ringer shows that there is indeed a difference in the baseballs used today. However, this difference is not enough to explain the amount of home runs hit this season. It is more likely a combination of changing baseballs and the amount of young power hitters in today’s game.
All in all, dingers are good for the game. Long live the dinger.