The rise in home runs in 2019 wasn't because of a juiced ball, but rather due, in part, to inconsistent seam height on the baseball combined with "player behavior," according to preliminary results of a study commissioned by Major League Baseball.
The early findings of the 27-page report were released Wednesday. The authors were a committee of professors charged with looking into the record number of home runs -- 6,776 -- in the past season.
The committee concluded that ball manufacturer Rawlings hadn't made any purposeful changes to the ball to increase offense. The report found the baseball's performance was because of variability in the production process and not because of anything intentionally done by MLB or manufacturer Rawlings.
Instead, the report determined that the carry of the ball led to 60 percent of the increase in home runs while launch conditions were the rest of the reason. The carry is affected by seam heights, in part, and the committee found "large ball-to-ball variation in those quantities," according to the report. In fact, among the balls evaluated in the study, four had seam heights less that 0.035 inches in height and two of them had seams that exceeded 0.0425 inches.
Since seam height is responsible for 35 percent of the carry, according to the report, the committee acknowledged additional review is needed.
"While we have learned much from our studies as well as those of other investigators," the report said, "there is much that is not yet understood."
The committee also said the home run increase, in part, also was due to changes in players' swings and launch angles.
The report included some recommendations, including researching how mud applied to balls influences the drag and looking into storing balls in humidors in every MLB stadium to make the conditions uniform across the country.
The professors said a more detailed report was still to come.
The study was the second commissioned by MLB and came following allegations that MLB ordered the balls to be manufactured to generate more offense.
The previous record for home runs in a season across MLB was 6,105. Fifteen teams set franchise records for home runs.
--Field Level Media
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