Hitters collectively bashed more home runs before this year’s All-Star break than they did in any other MLB campaign. They are on pace to shatter the full-season record.
But MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday frequent testing has not revealed a disparity between the baseballs being used this season compared to those used in previous campaigns.
“I do know that we have done more testing of the baseball in the last couple of years than ever has been done historically, and we know with absolute certainty that the baseball falls within the specifications that have existed for many years,” Manfred said from the All-Star Game in Miami, via ESPN.com.
Manfred cited differences in game play, with a greater emphasis on the home run as the “principal offensive tool” in the game, as possible reasons for the power surge. During the first half of the season, MLB hitters recorded 3,343 home runs. That eclipses the previous high of 3,312 in 2000, which was during the era marred by steroid use. The 2000 season established the full-season record as well, with 5,693 home runs hit.
At the current rate (on pace for 6,126 home runs), this season would shatter that.
However, MLB Players Association chief Tony Clark said the union has begun discussions with Major League Baseball about the balls’ composition. Clark cited health and safety concerns for these talks.
“I will tell you that, in our dialogue with Major League Baseball, our concern is health and safety as well,” Clark said on Tuesday. “It’s not just what balls are going where and how hard they’re being thrown. There’s a health and safety issue there, too.”