If you’ve been following along with Major League Baseball this season, you know that something is off about the baseballs. We’ve noted before — and commissioner Rob Manfred has since conceded publicly — the balls are more aerodynamic, leading to more carry at quicker speeds. As a result, the league has enjoyed an unprecedented home run spree.
Need more evidence? In May, MLB set a new record for home runs hit in a month, with 1,135. That record lasted all of … a month. As Craig Calcaterra noted elsewhere, MLB established a new record in June by hitting 1,142 home runs.
Think about that for a second: baseball has been played a long time, yet batters have hit more home runs than ever before in two consecutive months. The single-season high for home runs (6,105) was set in 2017, the last time the baseball appeared juiced. It seems more likely than not that record will fall before the season ends.
Manfred’s explanation for the baseball was that the manufacturers have done a better job of centering the “pill.” There’s also evidence the seams are different, permitting better flight. The combination has permitted teams to hit 3,421 dingers through the halfway point. Here are some other records set this season:
On an individual level, 29 players have already homered at least 20 times. Three players — Christian Yelich, Pete Alonso, and Cody Bellinger — could finish the first half with 30 apiece. Five years ago, only 11 players homered more than 30 times all season.
People like to bemoan the home-run numbers put up during the steroid era, but what’s going on right now with the baseball is more dramatic. At some point, the baseball will have to be corrected. Otherwise, home runs will continue to fly at these absurd rates.