MLB insists the baseball is not juiced, but have a committee studying it anyway
Many players said this year the baseball itself is different than previous years
If you like home runs, then boy was this the season for you. MLB teams set a new single-season record with 6,105 home runs in 2017, smashing the previous record of 5,693 homers set back in 2000. This was, far and away, the most homer happy season on record.
Baseball's home run rate has been climbing since the second half of the 2015 season, and because of that, many fans and analysts and even players are saying the baseball is juiced, myself included. A recent study by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman of The Ringer found some differences in the baseball that could explain the home run spike.
MLB has steadfastly denied the baseball is juiced, of course, . Despite that, MLB has put together a committee to investigate the baseball and determine whether something has changed that has led to the home run spike. Mets assistant GM John Ricco confirmed it while speaking to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News earlier this week.
"They talked to us about the committee they put together that is currently in the midst of studying it," Ricco said. "They have put together a high-level panel of physicists and scientists to study the ball and early returns are there really not much has changed. But we'll see what they say at the end."
Dan Halem, MLB's chief legal officer, acknowledged the league is looking into the baseball on Wednesday.
Keep in mind there is not necessarily something nefarious or controversial going on here. MLB's standards for the baseball are fairly wide, so it is possible for changes to the baseball to meet those standards while simultaneously resulting in a rather large power spike. Everything from the slickness of the baseball to the height of the seams will impact how well it carries.
It's no secret offense was way down around the league a few years ago. As recently as 2014 the league average was a .700 OPS. In 2017 the league average was a .750 OPS. Maybe MLB did juice the ball in an effort to increase offense and add excitement. I would've been totally cool with it. Offense is fun! Instead, MLB insists that did not happen, and now everyone is searching for a solution.
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