MLB keeps denying it, but MLB denies a lot of things they are afraid will make them look bad. The baseballs are surely different in 2017 than they've been in the past, and the result is homers. Lots and lots of homers. Ben Lindbergh wrote this summer that the juiced ball is back, and had the study to back that assertion up. Rob Arthur built upon that piece with his own study, similarly concluding that the balls were what's different and causing these homers.
This all happened after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred discussed that fans love homers. Coincidence? Uh, no, definitely not. But as we've discussed before, it's fine: MLB has made changes before in order to boost offense, iike lowering the mound in the 60s or the previous change to baseballs in the late-90s that coincided (and was overshadowed by) the steroid era.
Dallas Keuchel said the balls are juiced following a World Series game his team won, and explained that MLB had done this to make sure the games were more exciting and people stuck around since anything could happen in one swing. And now more players participating in the World Series say the baseballs are slicker, and causing sliders to flatten out: given how Game 5 went, it sure seems like Keuchel is on to something here.
Rob Arthur mentioned slicker baseballs in his study from this summer as well. A slicker ball moves through the air differently -- for example, a slicker baseball loses less velocity as it moves towards home plate, which also means it's going to lose less velocity heading back in the other direction after Carlos Correa crushes said pitch.
So, we've got a baseball that is more difficult to throw certain pitches with, and that also, by design, will travel further when struck. In short, more opportunities for homers exist, and, the hitters are taking advantage. That's how you end up with a record 22 World Series homers in just five World Series games. It's why these clearly exhausted relievers, who have been worked hard throughout the postseason, can't seem to get through an inning without giving up a dinger. It's why Game 5 was both the best and the worst depending on what was happening onscreen at any given moment.
As Arthur also points out, this all means that MLB's home run surge can end in an instant: once the baseballs are changed again in a way that reduces the slickness of the balls once more. Will MLB go for that in 2018 to try to get all of these studies to quiet down? That might be tough, considering we'd then see studies about how the ball is different in another way, but MLB is just going to deny everything up and down regardless of what's happening to their baseballs, anyway.
- Game 5 of the World Series was great, except for all of the parts where it was the absolute worst. Though, being the worst also opened the door for the moments of greatness, so... Game 5 is a land of contrasts, really. And Grant Brisbee covered it all.
- If you would like to relive all of Game 5 for some masochistic reason, my live blog from last right is right there for you.
- Crawfish Boxes has a recap for you, if you're feeling like you don't need to go play-by-play through Game 5 again.
- As True Blue LA points out, Clayton Kershaw had a chance to silence critics, but that didn't happen.
- Carlos Correa does not remember his glorious Game 5 celebration.
- As noted above, the Astros and Dodgers combined to set a record for home runs in the World Series, and they're only through five games.
- This baseball fan threw one of those homers back because the Dodgers hit it, which is easily one of the stupidest traditions in a sport full of stupid traditions. To make matters worse, he ripped it out of the hands of another fan who didn't throw it back.
- If you're wondering why Brandon Morrow was pitching for the third day in a row, it's because he talked himself into that disaster appearance.
- The Nationals reportedly hired Dave Martinez to be their next manager, but it's still "reportedly" since Washington wasn't going to announce it on a World Series day.
- The same goes for the Phillies and Gabe Kapler, who you can expect to be announced as manager officially since Monday is an off day.