Sarris: Is it the ball that’s different this season … or the hitters?

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on May 1, 2019:

Maybe​ you’ve noticed.​ Home runs are up, and we’ll​ probably​ see a record in​ that category​ this year —​ surpassing​ the​​ record that was just set in 2017. That year, we discovered that the ball, that fundamental piece of equipment, had changed, and was in all likelihood much of the source of the surge. And an early look at the ball this year suggests that the same has happened. There’s a heavier asterisk this time, however, as the players are adjusting their philosophies to the new reality created by the new ball. Figuring out why baseball looks like it does today is a game of wack-a-mole, basically.

At the All-Star game in 2016, we had an inkling that something was up; the home run rate had spiked in the second half of 2015, and didn’t stop early that season. There were plenty of questions about the ball in a question-and-answer session with commissioner Rob Manfred. He generally dismissed the idea that the ball was the source of the homers.

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Originally published: May 1, 2019. Last Updated: May 1, 2019.