Are the Balls Juiced?

MLB Fantasy Baseball HR Home Runs Balls Juiced

Just in the last four years, 60 more players hit 20+ home runs in 2017 vs 2014.  That is more than DOUBLE the total that year (57)!  No season had ever seen more than 93 players hit 20+ home runs before 2016 & 2017 both surpassed 110!

40 players hit 20 home runs for the first time in their career in 2017.  10 of them were rookies. In 2016, we saw 19 players eclipse 20 home runs for the first time and six of them were rookies.  2006 & 2008 were the only other years 5 or 6 rookies hit 20 home runs.

This video is now two years old but they noticed the rise in HRs at the All-Star Break in 2015


30+ home run hitters have nearly quadrupled since that year, with 41 players hitting at least 30 home runs in 2017 while just 11 did in 2014.

The interesting thing is that we have not seen an increase in 40+ home run hitters.  We are seeing them at half the rate we did in the early to mid 2000's.  From 2002-2006, the MLB averaged 9.4 hitters with 40+ home runs.  Since the 2007 season - 4.3.  Even if your ignore the 2014 season, when Nelson Cruz led the MLB with 40, the average only jumps to 4.6.

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton's 50+ home runs in 2017 matched the total number of hitters with 50+ home runs since 2007!  Jose Bautista (2010, 54) and Chris Davis (2013, 53) were the only players to hit 50 home runs between 2008-2016.

The 2014 MLB season was something we had not seen since 1995, which actually was the most home runs hit since 1980, outside of 1987!

In 1995, Albert Belle hit 50 home runs.  He was just the 2nd player to do so dating back to 1980.  The other? Cecil Fielder (51, 1990).

40 home runs had only been reached 30 times between 1980 & 1995, by 23 different players.  The only players to do it twice:



Data via FanGraphs.com


Actual Research

Let’s starts with some background. When a spinning baseball travels through the air, it experiences three forces, as shown in Figure 1. Gravity pulls the ball downward; drag slows it down; and “lift,” or the Magnus force (assuming the ball is spinning), changes its direction. If baseball were played in a vacuum (the “Physics 101 world”), it would only experience gravity. Under such conditions, the initial position and velocity (i.e., speed, launch angle, and direction) of a fly ball would uniquely determine where it lands and how long it took to get there. - Hardball Times
In total, the changes in ball drag explain about 25 percent of the variation in the ratio of home runs to fly balls over the last four years.2 Wind and weather can also influence drag, and although I controlled for those when I calculated the league-wide numbers, I also double-checked my analysis by looking only at Tampa Bay’s stadium, which is indoors and air conditioned. In the Rays’ home park, I found an even stronger correlation between home run rates and the ball’s drag coefficient.3 It doesn’t exactly come as a shock, but this is clear confirmation that air resistance influences home run rates. - FiveThirtyEight
Lately, though, the baseballs have become a lot more consistent. The standard deviation (a measure of variation) in drag coefficient between individual baseballs has dropped drastically in the last few years. - FiveThirtyEight
Although the source of that MLB-ordered report justified some skepticism, its findings appeared to set some of the speculation about the ball to rest. But without an equally convincing alternative, we couldn’t declare the baseball case closed. Now, new evidence has arisen that seems to support a contradictory conclusion: that much of the rise in home runs can be explained by the ball. - The Ringer

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