What’s wrong with baseballs in 2022?

MLB pitchers are complaining about the baseballs being used during the 2022 season.

Courtesy/Joshua F. Madison

MLB pitchers are complaining about the baseballs being used during the 2022 season.

There could potentially be a problem with baseball in 2022. By baseball I mean the actual physical balls, not the sport itself. 

There is a theory that Major League Baseball has been altering the baseball year to year to increase interest in the sport. The idea is that in 2019, MLB changed the baseball so more home runs would be hit. They thought that more home runs would give the game more exposure and increase viewers. 

What definitely is true is that there was an unusual number of home runs in 2019. In 2020 and 2021, the ball has been deadened, and there were a lot less home runs in those years than there were in 2019. 

Now, in 2022, there have been multiple pitchers complaining about the baseballs. Many pitchers are saying that the baseballs are inconsistent game to game or even inning to inning. This could be a factor in why there are an unusual amount of ‘hit by pitches’ this year. 

The New York Mets lead the league in hit by pitches with 19 in the first 20 games. That is almost one player hit per game, which is horrible. Players on the Mets got hit in the head with pitches four separate times. These are terrible stats that certainly are not normal. 

There are multiple potential reasons for an increase in hit by pitches, but the changes in the physical baseballs could be one of the most likely reasons. A theory is that Major League Baseball not only changes the balls to increase viewership but also to save money.

 It just so happens that the perceived change in the baseballs coincide with the big free agent names at the end of the season. At the end of the 2019 season, there were a lot of free agent pitchers like Gerrit Cole, Zach Wheeler, Steven Strasburg, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Madison Bumgarner. The theory is that MLB made the baseballs easier to hit so the teams would be able to pay the free agent pitchers less money at the end of the season. 

In 2021, the balls were deadened, and there was a large group of free agent hitters, including Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Freddie Freeman, Marcus Semien, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Starling Marte, and many more. Whether this theory lines up or just happens to be a coincidence is still not known. 

Unless there is an official investigation on the subject we won’t know, and it seems like an investigation is not imminent. What does this mean for the game of baseball as we know it? As for us, the fans, we can just watch and enjoy. Whether the pitchers or hitters have the upper hand is not in our control, so all we can do is enjoy whatever version of baseball is supplied. 

This theory and story has been ongoing for the past few years and it seems like the story just keeps getting more interesting. So all we can do now is wait and see if the narrative goes anywhere.