Baseballs' Effect On Talent Evaluation Looms Large

MLB is on pace for a record number of home runs in 2019.

Mully & Haugh Show
July 11, 2019 - 8:34 am
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(670 The Score) As baseballs fly out of MLB ballparks at a record rate and debates persist about whether they've been juiced, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer believes many are missing a key point.

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The trouble in Hoyer's mind isn't so much about what's occurring on the field, as there's no distortion of the competitive balance. Instead, it's whether the baseballs that have displayed less drag are here to stay for good or if they'll be cycled out after 2019.

Because it's the baseballs' effect on talent evaluation that looms large in the big picture, Hoyer said.

"For executives, one of the hardest things for us is the thought of what's going to happen going forward?" Hoyer said in an interview with Mike Mulligan and Tom Thayer on 670 The Score on Thursday morning. "Is this the ball we're going to use in the future? If so, that's fine. We just have to adjust our scales. Is it not going to be? This is something that is mentally hard to deal with because you don't know what's going to happen going forward and you don't know what to make of some of these numbers. So I think it is too much of a topic. I hope it recedes in the second half, but my fear is it won't. Because it's going to get really hot in August, and the ball is going to fly more. I think this is here to stay in 2019, and I think people are going to be talking about it."

As of the All-Star break, MLB batters have hit 3,691 homers in 1,345 games, which paces for 6,668 over the full season, according to the Associated Press. That would be 19 percent above the 5,558 mark in 2018 and 9 percent over the record 6,105 hit in 2017.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has denied that the baseballs have been juiced, saying the league hasn't found any changes in the manufacturing process.

With all that in mind, Hoyer understands why the baseball is such a hot topic, and he does sympathize with pitchers.

"I know with our players, it's always been a constant source of discussion," Hoyer said. "And if I'm hearing that from our players and having those discussions, that means everyone's having those discussions. I think it is too much of a topic, but I can't blame the players. You think about it, if all of a sudden what you do for a living is changed dramatically, it's really difficult to mentally adjust to that. If you're a starting pitcher and you give up a three-run homer on a pop-up to left field, those are three runs that go on your ERA. That's hard to just wash away. I do feel like with the pitchers, it's been a constant source of frustration."