Dave Roberts: Juiced balls primary cause of home run boom

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

MLB hitters are on pace to obliterate the leaguewide single-season home run record that was set in 2017. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts thinks he knows the main reason why.

From discussions he’s had with the players who both hit and surrender the home runs, Roberts thinks that the ball has changed.

“In talking to pitchers, it feels different,” Roberts said on the Dan Patrick Show. “As a hitter, you know when you get it and when you don’t. But I’ve just heard many times over ‘I didn’t get it’ and it carried 10 seats into the stands.”

Roberts also credited the players, noting that they are “bigger, stronger, and faster than they’ve ever been” and that they’re swinging for the fences now more than ever.

The idea of players being bigger, stronger, and faster and swinging for the fences more might carry more weight if this was a longstanding record. But the group of players we’re seeing in 2019 is obviously similar to the group that we saw in 2017. Additionally, things like focusing on launch angle and swinging for the fences got similar attention in 2017.

Still, even compared to just two years ago, the numbers are way out of whack.

Through Tuesday’s action, MLB players had hit 3,228 home runs on the season. That works out to a pace of 6,614, which would break 2017’s record by more than 500. Keep in mind, we haven’t even hit July and August, which tend to be even more home run friendly than April, May, and June.

Roberts is far from the first person to say this. We heard claimes that the balls were juiced in 2017. It was hard to argue then. It’s even harder now.