Provenzano: The dejuiced ball makes postseason baseball look completely different

From Matt Provenzano at Beyond the Box Score on October 15, 2019:

There are currently so many excellent narrative arcs coursing through the MLB postseason, from the Yankees and Astros’ rematch, to the Nationals finally making it past the divisional series (and now just one game from the Fall Classic), one would think that that would be enough to occupy our minds. Yet there is, instead, a scandal gripping the sport, and it once again puts the baseball itself under the microscope.

As has been known since the 2015 All Star Game, the ball has definitively changed. From then until just two weeks ago, the sport has seen a home run frenzy never seen in its history, making the dead ball-to-live ball era jump look merely pedestrian. Home run output was just 61% of this year in 2014, and run scoring has followed in its own way; runs have increased across the league by about 4000 runs, good for about 0.82 more runs per team per game.

That all changed starting October 1st, and the implications are currently changing the very fabric of the sport overnight. The ball, in a word, has been dejuiced. Ben Lindbergh wrote an exhaustive report of the scandal as of three days ago, highlighting the unbelievable work from Baseball Prospectus’ Rob Arthur, who showed in once-again-definitive-fashion that this was no fluke with the change in the ball. Seemingly overnight, the drag coefficient, essentially the air resistance against the ball, had changed so much that even after controlling for all of the usual variables like weather, park, and atmospheric factors, it would be a one-in-one-million chance that this batch was selected randomly.

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Originally published: October 15, 2019. Last Updated: October 15, 2019.