Toronto is playing well, of course. The Rays are surprisingly a legitimately good team. The Orioles always stick around. The Red Sox have arguably the most talent of the group. Finally, the Yankees have been hot all season, and Aaron Judge doesn’t look like he’ll slow down. The AL East is going to be fun to watch this summer, and the Blue Jays are making sure they’ll be a part of it.
MLB has juiced baseballs before. The steroid era sure seems like it was the era of steroids, but it’s still probably improperly named, since there were plenty of other aspects at play that caused offense to rise: smaller ballparks, multiple expansions in the decade that (temporarily) diluted the talent pool in MLB, and juiced baseballs as proven by studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and written about by Jay Jaffe.
Now, we might be back to an era where the ball is livelier, and it’s because of a change in the design. That’s what Ben Lindbergh and a guy who blocked me on Twitter after I told him to log off are saying, anyway. A change to the seams has reduced air resistance on baseballs, and between that and the sudden desire of so many players to hit fly balls, we’ve got ourselves a whole bunch of dingers we didn’t have even just a few years ago.
There are some issues here, though. The pair even admit that this is a central question we can’t quite figure out, and also that some of this could just be inconsistency in the batches of balls themselves the fact they haven’t been able to test any balls from this year limits the scope, too. And if there was a change, was it intentional, or just one of those things that happens when the manufacturing process changes?