Continuing a trend from recent years, the 2019 MLB season was dominated by a record amount of home runs hit across the sport. The Los Angeles Dodgers set a franchise and National League mark with 279 home runs during the regular season, surpassing the Houston Astros’ total of 249 in 2000.
The Dodgers overall finished fourth in the league behind the Minnesota Twins (307), New York Yankees (306) and Houston Astros (288). L.A. had 11 different players reach the double-digit mark on the year, which represented yet another franchise and NL record as well.
Some players have spoken out regarding the power surge that has taken the league by storm in previous years, asserting that the baseballs are juiced. And while MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has repeatedly denied those claims, the game balls have again become a topic of focus during the 2019 NLDS.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is under the impression that the baseballs differ in comparison to the ones used during the regular season. “Yeah, it’s interesting,” Roberts began.
“There are a couple balls that I felt that — I don’t know the weather patterns of D.C., but that maybe you see the trajectory and the sound and it doesn’t seem like it’s traveling — even the Cody ball that it seems like that ball, other times during the year, might have went out or went a little bit deeper in the ballpark.
“So I’m sure there’s going to be some digging on that, but yeah, it seems a little different.”
A total of nine home runs have been hit through the first four games of the NLDS, but as Roberts noted, there were multiple of instances in which fly balls simply didn’t carry over the fence.
Max Muncy’s eighth inning fly out in Game 4 left his bat at an exit velocity of 107 mph and traveled an estimated 402 feet, according to MLB’s Statcast. Similar batted balls have translated to home runs roughly 96% of the time during the 2019 season.
Even if Roberts’ suspicion proves true and the baseballs have changed, he feels that the Dodgers’ lineup will actually benefit given their tendency to hit fly balls. “I know that we do a good job of elevating the baseball,” he said.
“Max (Scherzer) is a strikeout-fly ball pitcher. So to get a couple extra feet on the baseball would certainly help us. But I think that, yeah, all things being equal, I definitely like our talent.”