Arthur: The baseball is juiced, again

From SABR member Rob Arthur at Baseball Prospectus on April 5, 2019:

It started when the normally reliable Chris Sale got lit up for three homers by the Mariners in the Red Sox’s season opener. It was part of a record number of taters that flew on Opening Day, as starters from Sale to Zack Greinke were taken deep by the handful. Then Christian Yelich hit a home run in each of his first four games, tying yet another MLB record, this one for consecutive games with a dinger to start a season.

It didn’t take long for fans and players to begin whispering and tweeting about the baseballs being juiced again. It’s early yet for us to come to any definitive conclusion about the 2019 season, but preliminary data shows that the baseball has returned to its aerodynamic peak. Whether that means this season will smash home run records like 2017 did remains to be seen.

Before home run explosion over the last few years, no one worried too much about the baseball’s air resistance. While MLB and Rawlings (the company that manufactures the official baseballs) kept track of dozens of metrics to make sure that the ball was consistent from month to month, they didn’t measure drag.

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Originally published: April 5, 2019. Last Updated: April 5, 2019.