Balls are leaving MLB parks at a record clip in 2019. Houston Astros All-Star Justin Verlander has no doubt that juiced balls are causing the boom.
One day before he’ll start for the American League in the All-Star Game, Verlander vented a lot of frustration about the balls and MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred.
“It’s a f—ing joke,” Verlander said, per Jeff Passan of ESPN. “Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you’ve got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f—ing company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it’s not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not coincidence. We’re not idiots.”
The numbers do tell a rather clear story.
In 2017, 6,105 home runs were hit. That shattered the previous record of 5,693, set in 2000. Only two years later, MLB is on pace to have 6,668 home runs hit. We haven’t even reached the dog days of late-July and August, which tend to be even more hitter-friendly. Additionally, this isn’t unique to MLB. Balls are leaving Minor League parks at record numbers, as well.
Whether you agree with Verlander’s argument is one thing. Obviously, a pitcher isn’t going to like seeing a home run boost. That said, his overall argument that the balls are juiced is a tough one to dispute.