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.
MLB Home Run Rates by Year*— Derek Carty (@DerekCarty) April 18, 2022
ANNNNND we're at the point where 2022 data should be pretty stable.
(*Adjusted for weather, park, player quality, and universal DH)
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!
- Ashford: Game #18: A’s clubbed by Giants 8-2
- Hall: Don’t give up on Stephen Piscotty
- Nico: Kotsay’s Bullpen Management So Far...
- Kawahara: A’s homing in on two Las Vegas sites as favorites for potential ballpark ($)
- Kawahara: Dany Jiménez providing A’s with strong relief ($)
- Shea: Vastly different paths to MLB from college for Giants’ Kapler, A’s Kotsay ($)
MLB News & Interest:
- Franco: Appellate Court Unsealing 2017 Letter From MLB To Yankees Regarding Rules Violation
- Drellich: What the ‘Yankees letter’ reveals about Rob Manfred’s decision-making ($)
- Sarris and Rosenthal: Baseballs aren’t flying as far, and home runs are down across MLB. Is it the ball itself? ($)
- Franco: MLB, MLBPA Allowing 14 Pitchers On Active Rosters Through May 29; 13-Pitcher Limit To Take Effect Thereafter
- McDonald: Eddie Rosario To Undergo Procedure On Right Eye, Could Miss 8-12 Weeks
- Franco: Latest On Jacob deGrom
- Adams: Correa Open To Long-Term Deal With Twins
- Today in Baseball History
Best of Twitter:
A’s former equipment manager Steve Vucinich underwent successful heart surgery yesterday! AN wishes Steve a speedy recovery!
Vuc update:@stevevuc is out of his surgery today and everything went well! He will need some time before his heart function is back to 100%. @ValVucinich and I want to thank you all for the hundreds of prayers and well wishes. We know they helped! #WeLoveVucy— Kayla Vucinich (@ilovevucy) April 26, 2022
Dave Kaval had quite a combative Tuesday on Twitter.
Done ✔️4:00pm Friday Televised Twitter Debate at the Coliseum. Happy to make $5,000 donation to Alameda Food Bank for each of us. https://t.co/AfERnBp2pv— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) April 26, 2022
Pache on Telemundo:
Today’s Selleck installment. I look forward to these every day now!
Dany Jiménez has converted each of his three save opportunities for the first three saves of his career…has three of the four saves by an AL rookie…teammate Zach Jackson has the other...the A's game note highlights for April 26: pic.twitter.com/A0uRX3YtTJ— Mike Selleck (@MikeSelleck) April 27, 2022
Smith on the mend.
Kevin Smith is going through a full workout today pregame. If all goes well, A’s will plan out a Minor League rehab assignment and how many games he’ll get down there.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) April 27, 2022
The evil grin and the baseball in hand to bean that poor, addled Cubbie bear really pull the whole thing together. https://t.co/JClgGMWObD— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) April 26, 2022
Congrats to the awardees at The Athletic! If I only paid for one site, this would be it.
Meg Linehan, Katie Strang, Steph Yang and Pablo Maurer of The Athletic won first place in the 2021 Associated Press Sports Editors contest in the Investigative category. https://t.co/EbswVYjIKR— APSE (@APSE_sportmedia) April 26, 2022
How do nothing-burgers compare with Impossible and Beyond burgers?
The infamous Yankees Letter ... is pretty much a nothing-burger. Says the Yankees used their replay room to decode catchers' signs and relay them to runners on second -- which multiple teams were doing. Does not find they were illicitly using CF camera. @martinonyc had it first.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 26, 2022
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!