This year is poised to easily be the — and not because of altered player physiques, but rather thanks to physicalalterations to certain batches of baseballs that make them fly more freely through the air.
But those specifications are extremely wide, allowing for massive variation in fly ball distance and corresponding shifts in home run rates.
But, as sabermetrician Joe Sheehan pointed out in a recent article, if manufacturing variation just happened to produce a batch of homer-prone balls in the last few years, 2017’s home run surge could disappear just as suddenly as it began.
Without more information on how the balls are made, it’s difficult to know whether the current trend toward more consistent baseballs will last and prevent the home run rate from shifting again.
And for their part, MLB denied in a statement to FiveThirtyEight that any changes had occurred “[i]n terms of manufacturing, shipping, storage and preparation for use … to the balls that are used in games throughout the season.”
- Why fans are riveted by Giancarlo Stanton's race for seventh placeThe Economist (blog)
- MLB closing in on home run recordSporting News
- Smashing: MLB home run record on track to fall TuesdayYahoo Sports
- Giancarlo Stanton Is Chasing an MLB Home Run Record, but Whose?Newsweek
- MLB's single-season home run record is likely to fall Tuesday nightCBSSports.com
- Baseball is becoming more fun. Why not just enjoy it?The Globe and Mail
- MLB Home Run Record Likely to Be Broken TodayNewser
- MLB is 17 homers away from breaking the single-season recordSB Nation
- Giancarlo Stanton Ends Drought With 55th Home RunNewburgh Gazette