Major League Baseball admitted using baseballs of two different weights during the 2021 season due to a COVID-era manufacturing issue.
However, an Insider study found that, not only were “juiced” balls still in circulation, a third MLB baseball was introduced in 2022.
In recent seasons, many pitchers have complained that the baseballs felt different, and 2022 was no different. New York Mets starter Chris Bassitt went on a rant in April about the balls feeling different throughout a game.
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Prior to the 2022 All-Star Game, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said two balls were used in 2021 due to an issue with a Rawlings plant in Costa Rica. A “new, lighter, deader ball” was deliberately used. However, due to supply chain issues, the league had no choice but to go to its reserves — the “juiced” ball.
Now, Society for American Baseball Research astrophysicist Meredith Wills, who found that two baseballs were used last year, did research once again on balls accumulated throughout the year and found that a third has entered the mix.
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Insider is calling them “Goldilocks” balls, the third one that falls between the “dead” balls and “juiced” balls, both of which were found in play this past season.
The third ball’s weight is, on average “about one-and-a-half grams lighter than the juiced and one gram heavier than the dead.”
What’s the difference with the balls? A heavier baseball has been shown to jump off a player’s bat more, resulting in higher exit velocities and, in turn, more home runs. A dead ball, or lighter ball, would produce the opposite.
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The report also indicates that the “Goldilocks” balls were primarily found in postseason games, the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby when collected. They were also found at Yankee games and commemorative games with specific stamps on them.
MLB told Insider its report was “wholly inaccurate and just plain wrong.”
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“[MLB] doesn’t give a damn about it,” Bassitt said via SNY. “We’ve told them our problems with [the baseballs]. They don’t care.”