Wills: Yes, the baseball is different — again; breaking down the changes to the 2019 baseballs

From SABR member Meredith Wills at The Athletic on June 25, 2019:

Welcome to baseball, circa 2019. Balls are flying, and records are falling. Players are on pace to hit 6,618 home runs, 1,000 more than last season’s 5,585 and 500 more than 2017’s all-time high of 6,105. At least 13 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams are in a position to break franchise records. Twenty-one players are expected to hit more than 40 home runs — including Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, who is projected for 61 — and the number who have already exceeded last season’s home run totals currently stands at 36 (and has probably gone up since this writing).

Balls are also traveling farther, with Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara hitting a 505-foot homer this past Friday and tying the Statcast era record. In 2018, only 82 home runs surpassed 450 feet. This season, that number is already up to 84, with a projected total of 178 — an increase of 117 percent. And it’s not just long distances. Despite the fact that fly ball rates are up less than 0.5 percent from 2017 and 2018, home run rates are up 7.8 percent and 17.8 percent.

So, what’s going on?

Read the full article here (subscription required): https://theathletic.com/1044790/2019/06/25/yes-the-baseball-is-different-again-an-astrophysicist-examines-this-years-baseballs-and-breaks-down-the-changes/

Originally published: June 25, 2019. Last Updated: June 25, 2019.