Justin Verlander '100%' believes Major League Baseball is juicing balls for more home runs

Ross Houston
July 10, 2019

Manfred responded to the conspiracy theories about juiced baseballs, saying "Baseball has done nothing, given no direction, for an adjustment of the baseball".

In an interview with ESPN's Jeff Passan at the All Star Game in Cleveland, Verlander said that balls used in games this season are "a f***ing joke".

Then, ESPN reports that Major League Baseball bought Rawlings, the company that supplies Major League Baseball balls, in June 2018.

Major League Baseball is on pace for 6,668 home runs, well ahead of 2017's record of 6,105.

Manfred said owning Rawlings gives MLB a chance to control the consistency of the baseball. The Astros starting pitcher called the current baseballs, "a f--ing joke", claiming Manfred worked with Rawlings to increase offensive production. 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. "What we need to be on the baseball issue is transparent and forward-looking", Manfred said. "I had Sandy Alderson, who was then the head of baseball operations, and he went around he went to Haiti, went everywhere trying to figure out whether the ball was juiced and we never found any evidence that it was". "It's not coincidence. We're not idiots".

Verlander added that "yes 100 percent" the balls have been juiced. There is no desire on the part of ownership to increase the number of home runs in the game. They know how to do it.

He does raise some great points, and it's fair to wonder if the balls really are being juiced.

Verlander, who will be the American League's All-Star Game starter, owns a 10-4 record with a 2.98 ERA.

That's a big enough change that if MLB wanted the balls to not change at all, someone somewhere in the chain of command of baseball manufacturing has royally screwed the pooch.

"[Rawlings] hasn't changed their process in any meaningful way", Manfred said late in June during an owner's meeting. Or they didn't, and Major League Baseball really wanted this change.

A month prior, the league released a study commissioned by commissioner Rob Manfred to investigate the baseballs, which concluded that while the balls were performing differently, they were not the reason for the increased home runs.

"We think one of the things that may be happening is they're getting better at centering the pill, [which] creates less drag", Manfred continued. It's really hard to isolate any single cause. "You don't want to, but I think we all have our suspicions".

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