Major League Baseball used two different types of baseballs during the 2021 season, Business Insider’s Bradford William Davis reports. The league confirmed Davis’ report in a statement, noting that the reason was due to production delays related to the pandemic.
“Rawlings manufactures Major League balls on a rolling basis at its factory in Costa Rica. Generally, balls are produced 6-12 months prior to being used in a game,” the league said in its statement. “Because Rawlings was forced to reduce capacity at its manufacturing facility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of re-centered baseballs was not sufficient to cover the entirety of the 2021 season. To address this issue, Rawlings incorporated excess inventory into its shipments to Clubs to provide a full complement of baseballs for the 2021 season.”
Prior to the 2021 season, the league let teams know about changes made to slightly reduce the amount of bounce in the standard baseballs, and also a weight reduction that made the balls less than one-tenth of an ounce lighter. While these balls were indeed deployed in 2021, a study from Meredith Willis (an astrophysicist associated with SABR) revealed that other baseballs used during the season had slightly-heavier centers of around 127 grams, as opposed to the newer model of ball with centers in the 124-145 gram range.
All of the Rawlings balls contain batch codes indicating the time of production, and by these codes, Willis determined that Rawlings has been producing balls with both the heavier and lighter centers since late 2019, before the pandemic began. The newer balls were produced from October 2019-January 2020 (still pre-pandemic) but Rawlings then switched production to the older and heavier balls from January to October 2020, switched back to the lighter model from October 2020 to January 2021, and has since continued producing baseballs with the heavier center.
“Every baseball used in a 2021 MLB game, without exception, met existing specifications and performed as expected,” said the league in its statement. As well, all of the baseballs used in 2021 fell within the standard weight of 5 to 5.5 ounces.
However, even the most minute of changes to the baseballs can lead to quite a bit of difference on the field of play, as evidenced by years of debate over the “lively” ball and the “dead” ball. The changes to the baseball were made in the first place due to the big surge in home runs during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, after all, yet the usage of both models of ball during the 2021 campaign leads to inevitable questions about which balls were used in which games.
“Yeah, that’s a big breach, for me, of competitive integrity,” one AL scout told Davis. “It is a situation where the game plays differently, and there’s a reason that’s not random or aleatory. The game is being made to play differently because they’re tampering with the ball.”
While MLB’s statement said that the MLB Players Association was informed that both types of baseball were used last season, this seemed to come as news to the 10 players Davis spoke to in regards to the story. This includes MLBPA rep Andrew Miller, who said “I’m not sure what we were told, but I’d assume it was nothing. If the balls meet standards, then they would have no reason to tell us anything.”
“There’s a fair amount of distrust between players in the league on certain topics, and this is one of them….But I think now we know what we know about how small the change in the baseball can greatly affect the way it travels, the way it’s thrown, or its ability to be gripped or whatever it is — like, those parameters may be pretty wide. And if there’s room for manipulation, that is concerning.”
Similar sentiments were shared among the 24 people within the game (“including players, coaches, scouts, and senior front-office workers”) Davis spoke with about the baseballs, though as one might expect, the front office staffers “were more diplomatic” about the subject. But the overall issue remains about exactly how much oversight, if any, MLB had over when or where the heavier or lighter baseballs were used. Or, as some players presented in “more conspiratorial hypotheses,” some possibility exists that the league could have potentially sent specific baseballs for certain games or series or either increase or decrease scoring.
Going forward, the league stressed that the “2022 season will be played with only balls manufactured after the production change.” Several of the player sources in Davis’ piece suggested that the topic should be incorporated into the ongoing CBA talks between the league and the MLBPA. For more uniformity, one National League hurler felt that an independent third party should be on hand at every stadium to weigh and more thoroughly inspect the baseballs prior to each game.
The game is called baseball yet we can’t trust the baseball.
I don’t know if you can really say you can’t trust the baseball. I mean, if it fits the requirements, then it fits.
Personally, I don’t see the big deal. Throw the ball, hit the ball.
Astros Hot Takes
the big deal is that MLB manipulates the very manipulable fanbase. Then everybody blames it on juiced players and AAAA pitching.
If it weren’t a big deal they never would have changed the baseball.
This is analogous to saying some pitchers were accidentally allowed to keep using super tack, but we are certain it didn’t affect the outcome.
Chipper Jones' illegitimate kid
Small changes in weight can cause up to 20 extra feet on a fly ball. If you watch a game, you will notice how often 20 feet can determine a deep fly out and a 3-run homer.
Well, when a baseball weights 5, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5 or any number between 5 and 5.5 its definitely an integrity issue when say pitcher A uses the 5 ounce ball but pitcher b used the 5.5 ounce ball or vice versa. Should be a set number. Might seem insignificant but if a pitcher is not throwing the same weighted ball it definitely affects a pitchers stuff.
Taguchi would say it doesn’t “fit”, and I don’t mean So.
LOL I see what you did there
Is that true, though? Two different specifications. If each met specs, but were different enough to be described as different, then no, it is clear they are being deceptive. And that “ specifications” are vague enough to not matter.
MLB leadership is clearly unethical, dishonest and detrimental to the game.
I think it’s one specification with an unfortuately loose tolerance so they can claim both are “in spec”. Funny how they rely so much on analytics they don’t see how basic manufacturing statistical analysis can make a difference. Probably not between HOF vs. non-HOF, but a 29th vs. a 30th homerun, or 99 vs. 100th RBI for sure it can.
And the baseball isn’t even American made
Last time I checked Costa Rica was still part of Central America. That makes it American made. The United States of America is a single country not the entirety of the continent. It’s not even all of the North American continent.
You knew EXACTLY what thickiedon meant and chose to be an a** about it anyway.
Last time I checked, which is right now, absolutely no one in Costa Rica thinks of themselves as being from ‘America.’ Ask any random person on any random street in San José where to get ‘American’ food and they’ll assume you’re a tourist trying to find McDonalds.
Do you need a passport to go there then it’s not
Not knowing the proper use of the term “America” is no excuse. Also, a lot of people around the rest of the Americans are bothered by the US being referred to as America.
“a lot of people around the rest of the Americans are bothered by the US being referred to as America.”
I can’t speak for the ‘rest’ of the Americas, but this is literally not true in Costa Rica or Panama.
Knowing? Lol. Accusing me of being ignorant because I use the term American?
God Bless America isn’t referring to Uruguay.
Islamic militants shouting Death to America isn’t directed at Surinam.
Coming to America isn’t about a voyage to Calgary.
American as apple pie and BASEBALL.
You’ve earned your virtue signaling badge!
You do know that apples are not native to America? The apple originally came from Kazakhstan and the apple pie was probably invented in England. Guess apple pie is as American as most of us as both the apple and the pie are descendants of immigrants.
FredMcGriff for the HOF
Just what the fans wanted to hear right before a lockout. Could Manfred manage a nursing home successfully?
Mlb just does this depending on the FA class to keep pitchers and hitters in line
Pete Alonso covered this… juiced balls during the season a bunch of pitchers hit the market… and now dead balls right before all the short stops hit the market.
The commissioner works for the owners, not the sport.
you do realize Scherzer, Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Carlos Rodon, Eddie Rodriquez all hit the market this offseason too right?
And yet their contracts don’t even sniff the same zip code of Cole, Strasbourg, ryu, bumgarner, Wheeler, Keuchel, Hamels, and Chapman.. of a billion dollars
Well Scherzer just got paid the hugest AAV soOooo
They’re all playing shortstop now, I guess.
actually outside of cole all the contracts were pretty much in line with what every one of those pitchers you are talking about got. Also Guys like Gausman too…so maybe do a little bit of homework before you make ridiculous comparisons…
Joe It All
I’m sorry, I didn’t realize pitchers and position players took turns alternating free agency years
Imagine being so stupid you actually believe this. It’s not buffoons at the casino telling me the automatic shoe is rigged. If it’s rigged why are you still here everyday? So you don’t actually believe what you’re saying.
Just wait for the bomb to drop that mlb “accidentally” slipped the juiced balls to mostly Angels games because they needed a superstar in Ohtani lol
Nah that’s the true implication
Don’t the Mets need an excuse?
MLB probably hide any juiced balls in plain sight and slipped them into Pirates and D-back games. No one would notice that the balls were juiced as neither team hit many hoe runs.
You said how
Astros Hot Takes
This is the biggest issue of all, besides gambling, regarding the integrity of the game; has been since 1987, and I am thrilled beyond words that SABR-member astrophysicists are on this.
…and why should the Astros get to use their physicist? The Padres’ physicist should have also been consulted
ISWYDT, well played.
Now that gambling is part of the game, I’d like the Mob to hold Manfred over a barrel. Because apparently the mafia is more honest than MLB.
This is why the next expansion team is going to be “The Horseheads”
alex anthopolous to freeman’s agent:
“you can have my answer now, now if you like. my offer is this: nothing, not even the luxury tax hit, which i would appreciate if you would put up personally”
Someone’s balls are on the line.
Ballsy assumption :p
I predict the seamless facts surrounding this gripping core matter will once again be trumped by the forthcoming conspiracy theories and spin rates
Yes. Wish I could erase it
points for honesty…
MLB forced to admit the ball was juiced the last few years
Collective Bargaining year, which has historically seen MLB bring up and make bigger deals out of issues such as Steroids shortly before negotiations
Prior to the season they say they will deaden the ball
They complain about lack of hitting to start the season
Half way through the season they implement a substance ban on pitchers in about the most visible way possible
Come to find out, they also apparently started juicing the ball again around mid season as well
It is not hard at all to find a possible conspiracy here
Did they create the lack of hitting so they could paint players as badguys before negotiations, then secretly add juiced balls back into the fold to create statistical evidence of a production change post ban?
I’m not sure it’s all that crazy of a theory
It was Covid’s fault. Move along.
Sooo, walk offs in the incredibly tight divisional / series races could’ve been determined because they used the super ball without the pitcher knowing? That seems…dirty?
And, in the top of the ninth a pitcher potentially could’ve used a “re-centered” ball, while the bottom of the ninth the pitcher could’ve used one of the “excess” super balls that was destroyed for a home run. Sounds about right, keep up the good work, MLB!
If the league did in fact inform the union and they didn’t convey that info to the players, then what?
Then it typifies the failures on both sides that are crippling MLB’s ability to grow to its potential, just like in contract negotiations. The reason for the analogy is the same, both Union and ownership on opposite sides but with such a narrow view that the game itself suffers.
So, Manfred will blame NAFTA?
He’s going to blame the voting laws in GA
Next year’s All Star game has been moved out of ‘merica – Robertolicious Manfred.
On a rolling basis…nice.
Don’t let this disrupt the narrative that the Phillies are “interested” in Schwarber
Pedro Serrano and Taka Tanaka approve of the new balls
The league is an abomination because of things like this. Incredible to do this and not say a word until a reporter exposes you. Stop tampering with the most important thing, the baseball.
Astros Hot Takes
When they tamper with the baseballs and change them for selected outcomes, it is no longer a sport.
It is a show. Like political theater.
Screw the guys in charge for doing this, and ruining the game that I loved.
I was under the impression Rob Manfred had no balls whatsoever.
You have got to be kidding me. Hopefully the different balls were randomly distributed.
This is what I’ve been talking about since mlb bought Rawlings. They can now influence the outcome of a game by distributing juices balls or dead ball…. Let’s get that soler hr in the World Series checked…along with 20 others from that game…this is ridiculous and you will never know who has the advantage now. Mlb is biggest cheater of all. Didn’t suspend and astros for cheating.. take away sticky stuff for pitchers yet the entire time they were cheating themselves. Ridiculous
dave frost nhlpa
I disagree with the scout. It’s not about integrity. It’s a baseball. It’s constructed and built the way it always has,with changes made under the direction of MLB. I wonder what Tyler Glasnow thinks.
Kapler's Coconut Oil
“The way it always has” but they literally used two different baseballs throughout the season, so at least one of them is not made the way it always has, and it’s certainly possible that both types weren’t made the way the ball always was
This season started with an admission the ball was not being made the same the last few seasons when power spiked, and a promise they would use the old “deadened” ball once again
Except they now admit only used it for a while, or even mixed the juiced ones in with the deadened ones, possibly creating a Russian Roulette situation within individual games
Very odd situation
How could players and umps not notice differences throughout the season?
Astros Hot Takes
you remember 2017 postseason, when several pitchers complained about the ball being too smooth?
This falls on the phony, Rob Manfred. I despise him.
Time to clean house in the League office, they have literally taken their eyes off the ball
Edit: I’m assuming the ball range is “124-125 gram range” if the surroundi g context is correct.
It would be unreal if opposing pitchers were given juiced balls to pitch to ohtani and they didn’t realize it lol. Offense seemed so dead around a lot of the league this season. Many Consistent annual performers all had down years at the same time which was nuts
Rob Manfred needs to be fired. The man is ruining baseball.
If it doesn’t make a big difference, why did they change them in the first place?
Hilarious! Some more fodder for the conspiracy theorists.
Kapler's Coconut Oil
Is it fodder or conspiracy if the league itself admits it did it?
Igor, release the conspiracy theories!
It’s not hard to figure out that the juiced balls were used during big games like heated rivalries, Sunday Night Baseball, and most obviously, the Field of Dreams Game. The league only admitting to this after being exposed just further shows how shady they are
I was gonna say that same thing !!! Sadly I knew we would lose that game due to that alone. That game was NUTS from a offensive perspective. I wonder if those balls were also used in London a few years back
The whole league used juiced balls during that season but they could have juiced them even more for London. Though I think a bigger factor there was the size of the stadium
Trust me those balls were extra juiced. Every pitch was being smacked around. Pitchers had trouble throwing constant strikes as well. Neither pitching staff stood a chance. I saw every pitch thrown that series and I was in disbelief
How can MLB be dumb enough to do this before a labor dispute? They just gave the players a reason for a 2nd grievance.
I wonder, depending on merit, damages, and proof, of course, if there’s any legitimacy to the idea of a class action suit on behalf of either the betting leagues collectively, or individuals. I’d have to think about that….
5-5.5 oz seems a big range. That’s a 10% variance. The core weight of between 124-145 grams is even bigger, at a nearly 17% swing. They really need to tighten the standards on these balls. Imagine having one basketball weight 10% more than another and claiming that it doesn’t affect how players shoot. It’s ridiculous.
Very true. I don’t think my balls have that big of a variance and I’m not in the majors.
It does appear at first glance that that a half ounce variance is way too high but you have to consider that every single aspect of the ball has to have some variance.. the core, the string, the hide etc etc. When you stack those tolerances that might be as close as they can hold the ball and still meet other specs such as diameter, number of laces, space between laces. until they are able to make a baseball that is 1 solid pc of material 1/2 ounce might be as close as they can get and still manage to mass produce them.
Mine are smooth, although the R may be ever-so-slightly larger than the L. I’ll get back with you on that.
Here’s a thought – stop throwing balls out of games after the slightest of use. We need many more balls these days because of that.
The variation quoted is huge. Wish the data was available to see the results of both types. Just like the imbalanced schedule another reason why results can’t be taken at face value
I’ll take BS non-stories for $1,000
Kapler's Coconut Oil
You’re down $1000 then
Now here is my question. Why can’t they ya know ….. change it back to the original baseballs ??? These constant changes can also effect player salaries
i’m unclear whether the league “switched over” to the heavier balls at some point or used both “batches” at the same time? someone help me out
Here’s a baseball trivia question probably nobody can answer. When a pitched ball touches the ground, it is automatically taken out of play by the home plate umpire and replaced with a new ball. But a batted ball is returned to the pitcher, and he decides whether to use it or ask for a new ball. Why?
and people are surprised by this why?
Probably the brazenness and audacity to take it this far, and to play God with the pure integrity of the SPORT.
Is it even a sport anymore if the balls are different and selected for specific outcomes?
I would suggest that is no longer a sport.
Astros Hot Takes
scout dude blows out with “aleatory”
I don’t often have to look up words.
I hadda look it up, too.
I report, you decide.
Aleatory means “random”
That’s the synonym.
There are “I’m smarter than you are” words.
This is an “I’m a lawyer and you’re not” word.
That’s the antonym.
The integrity of the game is at stake when the same standard does not apply across the board. For example,teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks which have utilized the humidor to restrict offense must ensure that same ball remains in play throughout the contest. Also a standardized strike zone regulated by an automated system to ensure the strike zone does not fluctuate will ensure a level playing field.
MLB will see interest in the sport decline further if perception of an altered medium prevelant throughout and unregulated by MLB continues.
Concern exists over market size as MLB operates as an association and the pursuit is the strength of the overall brand. One can theorize that larger market teams received a favorable ball at optimum times to ensure success. Was the same ball utilized for the Orioles as say the Red Sox?
MLB wants the “sexy” match up and can either through an ever changing strike zone or a completely different ball orchestrate it in a way MLB desires.
This one really fires me up for all the reasons you said.
I can’t trust anything in Baseball anymore.
I was anti stoppage always, but now screw em, I hope they strike for years.
They all deserve it.
Sure, blame the pandemic. What a crock.
If the baseballs are not grass-fed and non-GMO, I am not amused.
Hitter heavy free agent class (Correa, Seager, Freeman, Bryant, Baez) means deader ball that season
And it’s not the owners trying to pocket money. The survival of the game depends also on salaries not getting out of hand
The league and the owners have huge expenses they need to cover. Fans think money is unlimited and it isn’t
With Sports Betting legal now and baseball making more money because of it, you just CAN”T be doing this BS!
P.S. Every one of my total bets that lost last season was probably because of the different ball….LOL 😉
This is excellent perspective that can be easily overlooked. Outside of fandom and the game itself I’m sure people lost money on bets. Although I don’t condone betting, it’s legally allowed, and therefore inherently relies on the sport to maintain integrity and transparency. The sport did neither in this case.
Can they prove that your lost money wasn’t from changing balls? No clarity… for all we know they were changing balls by batter trying to elevate a game when the odds were at the lowest to improve betting. They are making money from all the gambling as well… this is a big deal and needs an investigation…bets, outcomes, player’s salary advertisements….geezus Pete can’t get into the HOF but they can allow this crap…hopefully the players file a grievance and force an investigation to where and when juice/ dead balls were used
Funny. Tom Brady manipulates the footballs and people have explosive diarrhea of hatred directed at the Patriots. Why? Because you’re not allowed to do that.
This isn’t rocket science. Stop screwing with the baseballs.
Who cares? The explanation makes sense, the balls were within standards and no one reported baby weird outcomes. Not everything my is a conspiracy, although for many, that in itself means there is a conspiracy.
This very much bothers me more than sign stealing, sticky stuff or even steroids, but will get .1% of the press that those issues did.
100% agree with you
Astros Hot Takes
Astros Hot Takes
as well it should – bother you more, I mean. I agree with you whole-heartedly.
Yeah, exactly, because these are, in effect, the “government officials” of the league. When the ones who are supposed to police the league cheat, the whole system has failed. There can be no trust and there can be no enforcement because there is no accountability.
This fires me up WAAY mire than the other stuff. Like way more. I can’t even explain it.
It goes to fairness and integrity and lies and deceit………..and I HATE it.
Oooohhhhh, THIS is why Gary Sanchez had down years. Whew, I knew it was something. Welcome back Gary, welcome back.
So it’s the baseballs I was using… that’s why I didn’t make it pro! Makes so much more sense now.
Well, that and only throwing 83-84 mph. That may also have had something to do with it… but it was mostly the baseballs.
I don’t believe anything that MLB says because they have lied so much. Once you lie or stretch the truth how can anyone believe you. Same goes for the Players Asso.
Here is a thought…….QUIT MESSING WITH THE GAME (the ball, the rules, etc). Those in power are messing up what once was our nations greatest sport. How can you have any integrity in the game anymore. How in the world can you vote players into the hall of fame with all these changes that have been made and altered stats because of all the changes.. It’s about the almighty dollar more than the game.
They have always tinkered with the game. Used to be a more lively game with a lot of strategy and now it’s all about the 3-true outcomes.
Could the players sue the league for this ? As I stated earlier these changes have a negative and positive effect on players (juiced balls harm pitchers and dead balls harm hitters of course) ? Doing this without players knowing is absolutely foul
Yeah this is pretty heinous. The Players should be infuriated. This is a bad look.
And then we blame Covid of course.
This explains everything.
An argument over the slightest difference in ball weight, but everyone is OK with ballpark advantages due to weather/climate, field dimensions (both fair and foul territory), hills in center field, various types of turf, open vs domed stadiums?
Makes sense I guess. At least everyone can claim their team/favorite player was screwed by this with basically no proof..or hope of getting any..and we can put an asterisk on another World Series winning team.
Huge difference. Ballparks, I’m which both teams play an equal amount of innings and with equal personnel numbers. Additionally, they understand the dimensions well ahead of the game and play games on many different fields, so these dimensions shift accordingly and equally. They affect both teams equally and no individual ability, specifically. Same with weather, and the other unbiased factors.
The problem with this is is could adversely impact a pitcher and advantageously impact a hitter, without either knowing, at any point in any game, and only at specific points in the game.
So then why are fans constantly whining about the short porch of Yankee stadium, the “pitcher friendly” Petco park, and so on?
If teams don’t believe they have an advantage based on the distance from home plate to the outfield walls, why are they all different? Why do some move the walls in or out?
Why is it that no player, particularly pitcher, said anything at any point about there being a size or weight difference?
1 other thing it seems has been ignored (from the comments I skimmed through)..if they hadn’t used a combination of different weights, would there have been enough balls to actually play a full season’s worth of games? If not, how would everyone react if the season had been canceled in mid August because they ran out? It sorta feels like they tried to make the best of a bad situation.
Oh, and if they had revealed this prior to the season, every pitcher who gave up a hr would claim that ball wasn’t regulation, OR, they’d toss every one out because they “suspected” it wasn’t, and not have enough anyway.
When the fences at yankee stadium move 10% in or out during the season then maybe your comparison will make sense
They’re closer than another park in the same division, so it makes a difference from 1 series or game to the next.
We’re talking about the weight of a ball, which nobody who played the game, made 1 comment about during the season (as far as I’ve heard).
I’m not sure that we didn’t hear about it means it wasn’t an issue.
Especially a year where they took away the sticky stuff, not sure a pitcher would actively announce that they feel the ball feels/weighs differently.
From the science it was significant enough that it 100% would make a difference. That’s all that matters
If ownership/the league gets caught cheating, who gets suspended?
They will stay consistent and employ the Astros’ punishment – a good, friendly learning lesson.
Manfred is not allowed to lead for one year.
So, nothing changes.
i have a spaulding national league ball from 1977 if the league would like to disect it.
Manfred must go.
This is a Horrible way to run anything, let alone PRO Baseball! This is the worst bullcrap story ever.
Screw them for playing games with this sport when there was not any trust to begin with.
And THEN…..blame COVID…
If they knew they existed, then they knew what games were using them, and this is the MAJOR MIDDLE FINGER to the players, fans, everyone.
They wouldn’t need so many if they didn’t throw every ball out of play the moment it touched dirt…
This also completely invalidates all of the collected data for many of these teams.
Wasted years of work for useless data.
This is a big mess.
I take it nothing will come from this correct? Manfred is ruining this game.
Some set of balls to do something like that.
what a pair of balls MLB has.
I call bs. They always screw around with the baseballs