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MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.

 

 

Indians’ Kluber has cast removed, making progress

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CLEVELAND (AP) Indians ace Corey Kluber had the hard cast protecting his broken right arm removed and the two-time Cy Young winner is healing as hoped.

Kluber underwent imaging texts Thursday, which showed that his ulna is mending properly. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Kluber can begin range of motion and that he will be re-examined in two weeks.

The right-hander broke his arm when he was struck flush by a line drive hit by Miami’s Brian Anderson on May 1. At the time, the Indians said surgery wasn’t needed, and Francona said the medical staff told him Kluber was having “expected healing.”

Kluber has been fitted with a protective brace. He said it was a relief to have the cast off and is excited that he “can do a lot more now.”

The 33-year-old ran sprints in the outfield before the series opener against Tampa Bay.

Kluber won 20 games last season and at least 18 in each of the past three seasons. He is 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts this year.

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