Waldstein: MLB hired scientists to explain why home runs have surged; they couldn’t

From David Waldstein at the New York Times on May 24, 2018, with mention of SABR member Alan Nathan:

The pitchers were right, sort of. Something in the aerodynamic properties of baseballs is making them fly through the air and over walls with greater ease, but a team of scientists hired by Major League Baseball could not determine exactly what it is.

The ball itself is not juiced, as many pitchers have claimed. The red seams are not lower, as some also insisted. And the launch angle of the balls off bats, another posited theory, does not account for the staggering number of home runs hit between 2015 and 2017.

It turns out it is all about drag coefficient.

According to the study commissioned by Major League Baseball and released on Thursday, baseballs were flying greater distances through the air because of a decrease in wind resistance. But the scientists who wrote the report said they were unable to identify the reason for it.

“We cannot find a single property that we can measure that would account for decreased drag,” said Alan Nathan, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois and the chairman of the study.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/sports/major-league-baseball-study.html

Originally published: May 24, 2018. Last Updated: May 24, 2018.