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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Study points to seam height in MLB’s homer surge, but leaves much unexplained

SAN DIEGO — For the second time in two years, a group of scientists hired by Major League Baseball to conduct an independent study on the composition of the baseballs to determine what caused the recent home run spikes has concluded not much at all. To their credit, they have a little more information than last time. (Maybe it was the seams all along.) But then again, who doesn’t?

According to the new report released by MLB on Wednesday morning at the winter meetings, 60% of the jump to 2019’s record-setting 6,776 homers is due to an increase in carry — in other words, the drag on the balls decreased. The other 40% it attributes to launch conditions — which, in the absence of other evidence, is believed to be a result of batter behavior.

Of the 60% that can be attributed to the ball, 35% of that was concluded to be the result of changes in the seam height, although it measured 2019’s average seam height as being smaller than that of 2018 “by less than 0.001 inches.” Despite not being able to explain the other 65% change in the aerodynamics of the ball, the researchers ruled out a meaningful change to a number of other physical properties — roundness, surface roughness, lace thickness.

Wednesday’s report was authored by Drs. Alan Nathan, Jim Albert, Peko Hosoi and Lloyd Smith, and again found no evidence that the balls were intentionally altered or “juiced.” The committee was first formed in August 2017, a season that had been a historic high-water mark in baseball for home runs. It capped off a steady trend of balls flying further that started following the All-Star break in 2015, spurring the league to commission the independent study to figure out what exactly happened. The following May, 10 scientists announced they had no idea.

Some more thoughts on why the home run surge has come to be.


QLE Posted: December 12, 2019 at 12:43 AM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: juiced baseballs

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: December 12, 2019 at 01:00 PM (#5908173)
   2. Lassus Posted: December 12, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5908175)
Science is weird. I know nobody believes anybody any more, but this might check out.
   3. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 12, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5908213)
in other words, the drag on the balls decreased.

The answer may be found in Dr. Canseco's work on gravitation.

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