Baseballs these days seem to be flying around stadiums like pinballs. The wizards with the bats have perfected the correct “launch angles” resulting in the highest rates of home runs and fly balls the sport has ever seen. This is all in part due to sabermetrics, showing that a productive player is one who hits home runs, gets on base, and strikes out (Three true outcomes). The best example of this is perhaps Joey Gallo. Although batters were striking out at alarming rates, pitchers were not satisfied.
A solution came about after the 2019 season displayed the most home runs ever hit in a season at 6,776 dingers. Keep in mind, this was more than the steroid era years when a few players were hitting 60-70 homers no problem. Rawlings themselves took the initiative to alter the baseballs after the 2020 season, slightly loosening the seams, which results in a lighter baseball with no size differential.
The result will be that the ball will travel 1-2 feet shorter if hit over 375 feet. The outcome of the season will hardly be noticeable. I predict home run rates will still be up like crazy. This is due to the emphasis on hitting the ball over the shift and the fence with the ever important launch angle.
I see the outcome being highly similar to the installation of a humidor in Denver, Colorado about 5-10 years ago. This was an attempt to deaden the balls by adding humidity to them, as Denver is cold, dry, and high elevated. Coors Field still ranks way above average on offensive production. The ball still flies out of the yard with consistency, but the field itself is giant. More singles fall in due to aggressively deep outfields. Summing it all up, there isn’t much a humidor can do.
Players have spoken positively on deadening the balls such as Dodger starting pitcher David Price. He claims that the ball was “juiced” but this is just an excuse for sabermetrics.
Price tweeted, “Did I see MLB is “slightly” deadening the baseball?! I thought MLB said it hadn’t been juiced? lol pitchers knew all along!! Baseballs had a different feel and a different sound. Happy to see they’re attempting to go back to the regular baseball…”
Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz doesn’t show worry. He says that everyone is in the same boat and will have to figure it out for themselves.
In the end, there’s no telling how it’ll affect the game, but I don’t see big changes. This is the era of baseball today.