Find us a pitcher who thinks MLB's baseballs are giving hitters an unfair advantage, and we'll find you a hitter who believes otherwise.
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander made headlines Monday when he said MLB is "100 percent" using "juiced" baseballs to increase offense, pointing to the dramatic increase in home runs in recent years.
"It's a f---ing joke," Verlander told ESPN's Jeff Passan. "Major League Baseball's turning this game into a joke."
But when asked about Verlander's comments Monday at MLB All-Star media day, Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez admitted he has his "own opinion" on the juiced ball debate.
So, why are MLB batters on pace to hit 6,668 home runs this year, a number that would smash the 2017 record of 6,105?
"I think hitters are more prepared then they have ever been," Martinez said Monday at a press conference. "I think hitters have more of an idea of what they're trying to do, hitting the ball in the air more. I think pitchers now, it's a power-arm league. It's either a walk or a strikeout, stuff over command. So I think you see a lot more mistakes over the plate.
"The velocity and the guys trying to hit the ball in the air is a recipe for home runs. In years past it was more of a command and location, movement-type stuff. A weak-contact kind of league. Now everybody wants the strikeout."
Martinez, who has 18 home runs this season and clubbed 43 long balls in 2018, added he expects a "swing back" in the next few years as pitchers adjust to hitters' new approach.
Martinez's theory makes sense, as baseball's "three true outcomes" -- walks, strikeouts and home runs -- are at an all-time high. But he and Verlander may both have a case, as MLB's new baseballs implemented in 2017 have a lower "drag coefficient," which helps batters hit longer fly balls.
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