MLB will change its baseball after record home run rates

After years of fielding record home run rates and variations in their baseball, Major League Baseball informed its 30 teams in a memorandum on Friday Changes in balls – and how they will be handled – for the 2021 season. The main among the differences will be slightly underweight and slightly reduced bounceness, with home runs likely to be reduced in the latter half.

“As you know, MLB has formed a committee of scientific experts over the years to study the construction and performance of baseball,” one of the first lines of the memo, which was First reported by Athletic. “One of the recommendations of that committee is to narrow baseball’s manufacturing specifications to improve the stability of baseball’s performance.”

Five of the six seasons have been since the beginning of 2016, with the highest home run rates in baseball history. The second came in 2000, before the league tested for steroids. Many pitches During the record-setting 2019 season, he insisted the ball felt different in his hands, and ace starter Justin Verlander Accuse the league Intentionally spring ball loading that summer. Home run rate Drowned during that postmason, Which further increased suspicion among the players.

(Although home runs have reached record heights, scoring Is not, As the strength of hitters increased, with record rates in strikeouts and throws to the pitcher more than ever.)

Officials from MLB and Rawlings – who have produced balls for the league since 1977 and effectively owned the league since 2018 – have stated on several occasions that the ball has not been intentionally changed. He said that there would always be some inconsistency for the baselines because the majority of the manufacturing process is done by hand in a factory in Costa Rica.

In December 2019, MLB releases findings A panel of scientists commissioned to study the issue. The committee’s report stated that slightly lower seam heights on the balls, which reduced drag, and more swinging of the players to the fence were the primary reasons for the increase in power, but they said the scientist completely increased the power can not explain. The League resolved to continue studying the issue.

Friday’s memo detailed the new changes. The MLB told the teams that “in an effort to center the ball within the specification range for counseling”, Rawlings created balls that “previously loosened the tension of the wool winding.” The result was a ball that weighed 2.8 grams and was slightly reduced, which, on average, was “more in the middle” of the league’s current range.

In a footnote to its memorandum, MLB wrote that its independent laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, as well as Rawlings, estimated that an average of one to two feet shortening on 375-foot fly balls would alter flight. .

Although inadvertently in the memo, this change could lead to fewer home runs during the 162-game season. In addition, a light ball can overcome the decreased bounceness.

MLB told the teams on Friday that with the testing of the new ball, “we are comfortable that these baseballs meet all of our performance specifications and achieve the objective of re-centering the ball within the specification limits.”

The league said it would release more findings from the test in the coming months.

In the memorandum, the MLB stated that five more teams had applied and received permission to store balls in moisture-controlled environmental chambers (known as humors) for the 2021 season. Five teams – the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners and Mets – used the Humidars in the 2020 season. A humidifier can help combat the effects of a site’s lack of moisture, which causes the balls to fly.

The MLB also stated in the memorandum that it would begin appointing on-site compliance officers for each 2021 game to ensure that teams were following league rules, including series regarding custody of sports balls and The use of clay included helping the pitchers better grip. Ball.

The league has of late tried to better enforce its rule against pitchers to improve their grip and spin of the ball by using banned foreign substances such as Petar Tar, which could result in more strikes.

Tyler Kepner Contributed to reporting.

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