MIAMI -- At Tuesday's Baseball Writers Association of America meeting, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred fielded several questions about allegations that the balls are juiced.
Manfred replied: "I know with absolute certainty" that the baseballs are within specified limits.
This is a non-answer. As noted in comprehensive articles (and podcasts) by both Ben Lindbergh (and Mitchel Lichtman) for The Ringer, and Rob Arthur for FiveThirtyEight, the range of acceptable liveliness of a baseball (in technical terms, its coefficient of restitution, or COR), varies wildly, from levels that could threaten a new Dead Ball Era to what we have this season, when we're on pace to break the all-time single-season record for most home runs in a season. Put another way, Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve are both terrific baseball players. To say that both fall within the specified range of height for a major league player completely misses the key details involved.
In this era of modern technology, it's very hard to believe that MLB can't standardize how lively its baseballs are. If in fact the league can control that range, the logical conclusion is that MLB keeps that range of acceptable liveliness purposely wide, so that it can affect on-field outcomes as it desires. Given the extensive research and findings put forth by Lindbergh, Lichtman, and Arthur, the burden of proof is on Major League Baseball to prove otherwise.