Physicochemical Investigation into Major League Baseballs in the Era of Unprecedented Rise in Home Runs

Nathan Beals, Liping Zhang, Meng Law, Darryl Hwang, Jay Acharya, Soumitra Basu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

A major attraction of baseball is the home run. Throughout baseball's history, some seasonal increases in home run numbers have been tied to external influences, such as lowering the pitching mound or a change in the ball manufacturer. In Major League Baseball, a recent surge in home runs has led to speculation about the baseball being "juiced" or altered in a way to make it fly farther. To support multiple academic and journalistic studies, which have attempted to find evidence of the changes in the flight of the baseball, a systematic chemical analysis has been reported on the multicomponent baseballs. Thus, we undertook a study where we analyzed the core of the baseball using various chemical and physical techniques. Studies using computed tomography scans revealed that there is a drastic 56.7% difference in the density of the core of the baseballs used during the 2014 and pre-All-Star Game 2015 versus 2017 season in the Major League. Increased material porosity was observed using electron microscopy. Thermogravimetric and elemental analyses of the pill material showed a 7% difference in the ratio of organic to inorganic material and almost a 10% decrease in silicon, respectively. Overall, the data indicates a difference in the core of the baseballs between the two time periods, leaving the contribution of these measured differences in the explosion of home runs open to interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20109-20117
Number of pages9
JournalACS Omega
Volume4
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

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