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Elephant Rumblings: Is this the dawn of a new dead ball era?

MLB news roundup

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Baseball Player Ty Cobb

Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!

Dingers are down in 2022, and Eno Sarris and Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic are out to find out why.

In 2019, the home run rate in the early season spiked to over five percent, way up from just over four percent in 2018, which was itself one of just a few seasons with rates around that high since 2007.

In 2021, MLB introduced a new ball to replace the “juiced” ball that the surging number of home runs was attributed to. However, production issues forced the league to continue using the older balls along with the new ones, and the home run rate remained very high at five percent last year.

This season, only the new balls are in circulation and home runs so far are coming at a rate that was more typical before the 2019 spike. Case closed, right? Maybe, but there are other possible elements at play that might complicate matters.

A number of factors besides ball construction can affect home run rates, including weather. But two experts released data controlling for weather and found it had no significant impact on the number of dingers leaving ballparks.

However, man made climate changes might also be suppressing the ball’s flight, and I’m not referring to global warming in this case. This past offseason, the league installed humidors in 20 MLB ballparks—including the Coliseum—to create more consistent levels of humidity in games across the country. This April, dryer conditions in Oakland have meant that the humidor is adding moisture to the balls, causing them to be less bouncy and travel less distance than they otherwise would.

But later in the season, as humidity typically rises in Oakland, the humidor will more likely remove moisture from the balls, making them bouncier. This could cause home run rates to go back up, but since this is the first season in which humidors are in widespread operation and only the new balls are in circulation, we will just have to wait and see what actually happens.

Whatever the case may be, if the humidors wind up re-juicing the ball—or more precisely, de-juicing the ball in a way that livens it—the league’s hands will be tied to do anything about it until next offseason.

As nerdy as all of this sounds, it is just the tip of the nerd iceberg that Sarris and Rosenthal attempted to size up in The Athletic yesterday. I highly recommend a deep dive into their analysis!

A’s Coverage:

MLB News & Interest:

Best of Twitter:

A’s former equipment manager Steve Vucinich underwent successful heart surgery yesterday! AN wishes Steve a speedy recovery!

Dave Kaval had quite a combative Tuesday on Twitter.

Pache on Telemundo:

Today’s Selleck installment. I look forward to these every day now!

Smith on the mend.

Um, what?

Congrats to the awardees at The Athletic! If I only paid for one site, this would be it.

How do nothing-burgers compare with Impossible and Beyond burgers?

Better actually cast it into the fires of Mt. Doom if you want my advice. Hope the A’s fare better today and tie up the Bay Bridge Series!