MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Reiterates Postseason Baseballs Aren’t Different From Regular Season
General view of a Major League baseball before Game 1 of the 2019 World Series
B. Shea/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers set an MLB record with eight home runs on Opening Day of the 2019 season, 14 total in the four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and it wound up serving as a precursor for not only their power display but across the league as well.

Teams combined to slug a record 6,776 home runs this season — shattering the previous mark set in 2017 by 671 more. Before the 2017 season, the MLB record for most home runs in a single season was 5,693 in 2000.

There was a regression after the spike two years ago as only 5,855 homers were hit in 2018. This season’s surge fueled speculation the composition of baseballs had again been changed.

The notion that they are “juiced” has regularly been dismissed. Though in July, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred posited perhaps adjustments with the pill inside the ball had an impact on their carry.

The eye test would suggest the postseason has brought about more change, as they don’t appear to be traveling as well. MLB recently issued a statement that explained all 2019 baseballs are from the same batch, and Manfred reiterated that stance, via Ken Davidoff of the New York Post

“I think that analysis based on large sample sizes, season-long sizes, is really the most reliable research,” Manfred said, shortly before World Series Game 2 began. “We’re going to have that report from the scientists.

“… I can tell you one thing for absolute certain: Just like every other year, the balls that were used in this postseason were selected from lots that were used during the regular season. There was no difference in those baseballs.”

The Dodgers set franchise and National League records with 279 home runs during the regular season. They finished fourth overall, behind the Minnesota Twins (307), New York Yankees (306) and Houston Astros (288).

With those four teams advancing to the postseason, many expected prolific offenses to be a storyline throughout October. L.A. and the Washington Nationals combined for 14 home runs in five games during the NL Division Series.

A drive that didn’t result in a homer, however, seemingly cost the Dodgers the series. Will Smith hit a fly ball to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning, only for it to be caught on the warning track.

Smith tossed his bat, sensing he’d just clubbed a walk-off home run, and multiple Dodgers began to spill out of the dugout in anticipation of a forthcoming celebration.

“I was one of those who, off the bat, definitely thought Will Smith’s ball was gone. That’s something that unfortunately keeps playing in my head too often,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at his year end press conference.