Last season, an unusual amount of home runs were hit compared to previous seasons. The people on top of the home run list, like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, were flirting with hitting 60 home runs for the first time since the steroid era of the early 2000s. Stanton ended up with 59 and Judge at 52, but their home runs were usually deep shots. But MLB hitters as a whole hit more home runs in 2017 than any previous season.
One reason why that was happening was how baseballs were stored. While teams like the Diamondbacks and Rockies have humidors that they store baseballs in, it varied by the team. The drier the atmosphere is, the more lively a ball will be and is likely to travel farther when it goes off the bat. The Rockies were one of the first teams to do this in order to counteract the advantage of balls traveling further in the thin air of Denver.
Now, according to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, all teams will be required to store their baseballs in air conditioned rooms with climate sensors in 2018 to try and determine whether or not teams should store their balls in a humidor starting in 2019.
While fans would probably love for baseballs to be stored in the driest places imaginable, pitchers took issue with the inherent easiness that players were hitting homers during 2017. That was an issue during last year’s World Series. While that caused a very exciting and high scoring World Series that consisted of 68 runs, 25 home runs and 103 hits, it’s not exactly a shining moment for the pitchers who have to go through batters just slamming them deep. According to Verducci, “Pitchers complained of low seams and tightly wound balls, and the slickness and uniformity of baseballs used in the World Series came into question.”