The secret behind MLB’s home run record-setting year

Does baseball have a home run problem?

Consider some of these achievements through the first three months of the season. The Yankees set the all-time MLB home run record by hitting at least one in their 28th straight game. Baseball’s home run leader — Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich — nearly has as many home runs this year (29) and he had last season in (36) in just 72 games. This season, baseball is projected to smash its home run record, 6,105 set in 2017, by as many as 500 dingers.

So what exactly is going on? Some have accused MLB of juicing baseballs, which are made by Rawlings, a company MLB owns. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently addressed concerns about baseballs having less drag, saying Rawlings is getting better at making baseballs, which “creates less drag.”

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“They [Rawlings] haven’t changed their process in any meaningful way. They haven’t changed their materials,” Manfred said via Newsday. “There’s two points that I would make, even in the report last year: The scientists identified the pill in the baseball — not what it was actually composed of — but the centering of the pill in the baseball as something that could be a drag issue. To the extent that the pill is not perfectly centered, the ball wobbles when it’s hit, which creates more drag. We think one of the things that may be happening is they’re getting better at centering the pill. It creates less drag.”

Is that the entire story, though?

The Athletic had astrophysicist Dr. Meredith Wills take a deeper look at baseballs and her findings tell a something a little different. The ball is very different. While it might not exactly be juiced, the perfection of making the ball has drastically changed throughout the years. From the actual size to the seams being lower, Rawlings and MLB have created a better ball that has effectively messed with physics, which for a game struggling to put fans in seats, might be a good thing in the long run.