Rob Manfred weighs in on ‘dejuiced’ playoff baseball controversy
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday reacted to the ongoing controversy over whether baseballs have been “dejuiced” in the postseason, and he summarily debunked such speculation.
There has been a growing belief among a contingent of insiders and analysts within league circles that after a record-setting MLB campaign where more home runs were hit than any other season in history, baseballs have been conspicuously leaving ballparks far less often in the playoffs.
Manfred disputed that notion while speaking to reporters ahead of Game 2 of the World Series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.
“I think that analysis based on large sample sizes, season-long sizes, is really the most reliable research,” Manfred said, shortly before World Series Game 2 began, via the New York Post. “We’re going to have that report from the scientists.
“… I can tell you one thing for absolute certain: Just like every other year, the balls that were used in this postseason were selected from lots that were used during the regular season. There was no difference in those baseballs.”
There were a stunning 671 more home runs hit during the 2019 season than in any other year in MLB history, and the long-ball rate has dropped a bit in the postseason. Data shared earlier this month suggests that the drag on baseballs has changed significantly during the postseason.
Updated drag chart current through yesterday's games. No real reversion. Shaded area is now the 95% confidence interval for each week (derived from bootstrapping). You can see why I said there's a one in a million chance the balls are the same–the intervals are very narrow. pic.twitter.com/Gibc4AUN49— Rob Arthur (@No_Little_Plans) October 15, 2019
A theory espoused earlier in the season suggested that balls being used in games were “juiced” and had less drag, which would allow them to travel further due to less air resistance. In July, Manfred disputed that there is desire among MLB management and owners to see more home runs, arguing there is a “flaw in the logic” inherent to the juiced-ball theory.
When the “dejuiced” ball conspiracy began to surface earlier this month, MLB issued a statement stating the baseballs being used in the postseason were from same batches as those used during the league’s record-breaking regular season.
BREAKING: MLB issues statement on baseballs used in postseason. “Balls that are used in the Postseason are pulled from the same batches as balls used in the regular season…. only difference is the stamp placed on the ball.” Additional comments: pic.twitter.com/SX9NqfykiY— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) October 10, 2019
Manfred’s mention of a “report from scientists” regarding the composition of baseballs, drag-related and otherwise, alludes to findings Major League Baseball expects to release between the conclusion of the World Series and the end of the year.