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Home run surge isn't due to juiced baseballs, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says

Manfred said Major League Baseball has done extensive research into the balls it uses, and it all comes down to less drag, not juiced baseballs.

Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, gives a remark during

Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, gives a remark during a groundbreaking ceremony of The Jackie Robinson Museum on April 27, 2017. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Home runs are being hit at a record clip this season, and that has some wondering if the baseball is juiced.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Major League Baseball has done extensive research into the balls it uses, and it all comes down to less drag.

Yes, less drag. Drag is the aerodynamic force that opposes an object in motion through the air. When there's less drag, the ball will carry further.

"We have spent a lot of time and money with experts last year to do a stem-to-stern study on the baseball," Manfred said Thursday at the Associated Press Sports Editors commissioners meeting in Manhattan. 

"They concluded that there has been no change in how the baseball is being manufactured. All the basic measures have remained unchanged. They concluded that the drag of the baseball had changed.

"When the drag goes down, the scientists tell us, the ball goes further and you’re going to have more home runs."

So home runs are up because the drag is down.

This season there were a record 1,144 homers hit in March and April, which is an average of 2.62 homers a game, an increase of 12.2 percent from a year ago.

Manfred said that the research could not determine why the drag changes.

"They did have some theories, which in part, were that the baseball is a hand-made product and is almost exclusively made from natural products," Manfred said. "The result of that is there’s going to be variations in baseballs. You cannot escape that fact. We’re in that range of variation that we don’t know how to eliminate."

There were a record 6,105 home runs hit in 2017, and that mark is in jeopardy this year.

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