A while back I wrote a piece on the juiced ball and the effects that it is having on baseball. Since then, we are now at ends reach of the postseason, with the Nationals already in the World Series while we wait to see whom they will face whether it be the Astros or the Yankees. Throughout the postseason, one thing has been noticed by fans and analysts alike, and that is the lack of the homerun ball. It seemed in March through September a simple deep fly ball would magically turn into a big fly. Now, the exact opposite is happening which has been seen numerous times with long fly balls hit in the postseason that appear to be gone, then suddenly it seems to drop out of mid air. So what happened to that juiced ball that I wrote about just a month ago, and is it officially dead?
The last time I touched on this subject, home runs were flying out of Major League Ballparks left, right and center of course. We saw the rookie home run record broken for the second straight season after Aaron Judge accomplished it in 2018 with 52. Pete Alonso them broke that record this season with 53 home runs. Production all around the league was at an all time high when it came to the big fly, like what I did there?
Since we have reached the postseason though, it seems the ball has changed from its once juicy state to now more of a ball from the “Deadball Era.” Of course people could put up an argument and say something like, “Ummm have you not seen the pitching so far this postseason,” and that’s a fair point, but it doesn’t explain a ball being hit with the same trajectory, hit speed, and distance, yet somehow it’s not ending up in the stands like the ones in the regular season were.
Let’s look at some examples of this.
6th inning of game 2 in the ALCS, Carlos Corea seemed to launch a bomb, even the pitcher Tommy Kahnle thought it was gone straight off the bat. Funny enough the ball Corea hit here was actually hit harder and had the same launch angle as the walk off home run he would go on to hit later in the game. This ball ended up dying in center field and went for a long flyball out.
Next example is Will Smith’s 9th inning flyout against Daniel Hudson in game 5 of the NLDS. This ball looked like it was going to end the game and send the Dodgers on their way to the NLCS. But like the other one this ball died out after leaving the bat at 100.3 mph and made for a routine fly out.
Our last example takes place in the same game but rather in the fourth inning with Howie Kendrick. The ball left Kendricks bat at 100.9 MPH and went 393 feet, it appeared it was gonna leave the park, but a leaping Cody Bellinger stopped it at the wall. Even if Bellinger hadn’t lept at the wall, the ball still didn’t have enough juice to get out of the park.
All of these examples are interesting because when comparing similar hits in the regular season these would have been home runs easily, but for whatever reason these specific balls seemed to die in mid air. Now you can blame a number of different things including weather, and wind patterns. However, one thing is certain and that is that we have definitely seen some big hits die out just when they look like they’re going to leave the park, and it has happened all postseason long.
The MLB put out a statement saying:
Whether you believe them is up to you, I mean it’s not like the MLB is gonna come out and straight up say, “Yeah we changed the balls.” Could you imagine? Either way it seems something has changed from the regular season ball to the Postseason ball, or maybe we’re all trying to create a conspiracy within our minds that really doesn’t exist.
Main photo credit: Wilx.com
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