The discussion around juiced baseballs has been well-documented throughout the sport the last couple of seasons – in 2019, there were 6,776 home runs hit, over 500 more than the previous record in 2017 (which was over 500 more than that previous record).
Now in 2021, offense is down everywhere.
Pete Alonso has quite the theory on why the league has changed the balls.
“The biggest concern is that Major League Baseball manipulates the baseballs year in and year out depending on the free agency class, or guys being in an advanced part of their arbitration, so I do think that’s a big issue: the ball being different every single year.
“With other sports, the ball’s the same, like basketball, football, tennis, golf, ball’s the same. I think that’s the real issue with the changing of the baseballs.”
And to Alonso, that isn’t a conspiracy.
“That’s a fact. Guys have talked about it, but in 2019, there was a huge class of free agent pitchers, and that’s quote-unquote the juiced balls. 2020 was a strange year with the COVID season, but now that we’re back to playing a regular season with a ton of shortstops or position players that are owed and gonna be paid a lot of money… it’s not a coincidence, and I think that definitely is something that they do.“
Upcoming free agents this year include Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Kris Bryant, Freddie Freeman, Michael Conforto, and Javier Baez. Francisco Lindor was set to be a free agent after this year, but signed a 10-year deal right before Opening Day.
In 2019, pitchers who hit free agency that offseason included Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, and Dallas Keuchel.