Pablo Sandoval’s three-homer game is most impressive in postseason history

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Before Pablo Sandoval got to Justin Verlander twice and Al Alburquerque once for his first ever three-game game in the World Series opener, eight players in major league history had hit three homers in a postseason game:

Babe Ruth (NYY) – Game 4, 1926 WS – 3-for-3, 4 RBI, 2 BB
Babe Ruth (NYY) – Game 4, 1928 WS – 3-for-5, 3 RBI
Bob Robertson (Pit) – Game 2, 1971 NLCS – 4-for-5, 5 RBI, 2B
Reggie Jackson (NYY) – Game 6, 1977 WS – 3-for-3, 5 RBI, BB
George Brett (KC) – Game 3, 1978 ALCS – 3-for-5, 3 RBI
Adam Kennedy (ANA) – Game 5, 2002 ALCS – 4-for-4, 5 RBI
Adrian Beltre (Tex) – Game 4, 2011 ALDS – 3-for-4, 3 RBI
Albert Pujols (StL) – Game 3, 2011 WS – 5-for-6, 6 RBI

Kennedy may yet rank as the most unlikely of the three-homer games, considering that he’s not a power hitter at all. He’s homered once in his 24 other career postseason games.

However, once factoring in the quality of the competition, Sandoval’s seems just as unlikely. And it’s the most impressive of this whole bunch.

– Including the postseason, Verlander had given up 21 homers in 262 2/3 innings this season or one every 12 2/3 innings. Sandoval hit two in four innings off him tonight.

– Albuquerque has never allowed a homer in 56 2/3 innings in the regular season. He did surrender one to Robinson Cano in the ALDS a year ago.

– No one homers in AT&T Park. The Giants hit 31 and allowed 53 there this year. Sandoval was the first person to hit three homers there since Kevin Elster did it in the park’s inaugural game 12 years ago. Only four players hit two homers in a game there this year, and the lone Giant to do it was Sandoval.

Besides Sandoval, Brett probably had the toughest assignment in getting to three homers; he was facing Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter when he did in 1978. However, it was in a losing cause in the ALCS, so that costs him some points. Jackson’s three-homer game was more crucial, coming in a Game 6 that clinched the 1977 series for the Yankees. Pujols was the one player to hit three homers and still add two more hits.

But Sandoval’s game seems to me to the most impressive of the bunch. To get to those two pitchers in that ballpark in a World Series Game is maybe the highlight of the 2012 season to date.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.