Houston Astros starter Justin Verlander, who is also the American League All-Star Team starter, believes that the dramatic uptick in homeruns this season is attributed to MLB juicing baseballs to generate offense.
“It’s a f–king joke. Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke” Verlander said, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
“They own Rawlings, and you’ve got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f–king company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it’s not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not coincidence. We’re not idiots.”
Per the report, batters are on pace to hit 6,668 homers this season, completely crushing the previous record set just two seasons ago, a whopping 6,105 home runs.
“Yes. 100 percent,” Verlander said of his belief of the juiced baseballs. “They’ve been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever. They know how to do it. It’s not coincidence. I find it really hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced.”
“It’s a power-arm league,” Verlander said. “It’s either a walk or a strikeout—stuff over command. I think you see a lot more mistakes over the plate. The velocity, the guys trying to hit the ball in the air—I think it’s a recipe for home runs.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke about the issue during an appearance on ‘Golic & Wingo’ on Monday.
“We think what’s been going on this year is attributable to the baseball” Manfred said (h/t Bleacher Report).
“Our scientists that have been now studying the baseball more regularly have told us that this year the baseball has a little less drag. It doesn’t need to change very much in order to produce meaningful change in terms of the way the game is played on the field. We are trying to understand exactly why that happened and build out a manufacturing process that gives us a little more control over what’s going on. But you have to remember that our baseball is a handmade product and there’s gonna be variation year to year.”