As Home Run Rates Rise, MLB Offers Evidence That the Ball Isn’t Juiced

Ben Lindbergh, The Ringer

Amid a record-setting (and eyebrow-raising) dinger surge, the league has shared with The Ringer exclusive research that seems to support its position that the ball hasn’t been altered to boost scoring — and, in turn, fan interest. What does it mean for the sport’s future?

Monday night in Major League Baseball looked a lot like many other nights in baseball’s highest home run era. Nine games were played, and 25 home runs were hit — an average of 1.4 per team in action, some from the usual suspects (Bryce Harper, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton) and others from less likely sources (Drew Butera, Ryan Goins, Cory Spangenberg). Mark Trumbo went deep on the highest pitch to be hit for a homer since at least 2007. Ryan Schimpf, an uppercut king who might have the highest fly ball rate in history, hit another fly ball over the fence. Marcell Ozuna and Jed Lowrie touched ’em all twice each.

I noted in March that baseball’s home run rate was up slightly in spring training, relative to last spring. Through the first five-plus weeks of the regular season, the same has held true. However you slice the stats — plate appearances per home run, home runs per batted ball — last season’s home run rate was the highest ever. Thus far, this year’s has been higher still, even though home run rates are usually lower early in the season, before the weather warms up and the ball flies farther. All indications are that we’re headed for another new season-long high.

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