Studies suggest the new baseballs won't travel quite as far this season -- one to two feet less on hits of 375 feet or more, according to a study commissioned by MLB.
The new balls weigh 0.098 ounces less and are, to be simplistic, less bouncy. (More about the tweaks to the baseballs here.)
Prior to the 2019 season, Korean baseball league KBO changed its baseball, making it one gram lighter and slightly reducing the coefficient of restitution (the bounciness). Runs per game dropped from 11.1 in 2018 to 9.1 in 2019 with the new balls (h/t The Athletic).
Opinions vary on how much impact the tweaked baseballs will have on MLB scoring this season, but the consensus among oddsmakers is that we won't see a dramatic reduction in scoring. Spring training games, however, have seen less runs and less homers compared to past preseasons, and Padres starter Blake Snell noted that the seams on the new balls appear to be thicker and easier to grip.
"It's easier to throw more curveballs now," Snell said after a March 9 start. "It's easier to throw sliders and have more movement on them, just because I can grab the laces a lot better and grip it and throw it."
At minimum, the new balls provide an intriguing handicapping angle entering Opening Day. To set the table, ESPN Stats and Information dug into the data as an appetizer.
Let's dig in and, thankfully, play ball!
The new baseballs; By the numbers
• Nearly 81% of home runs over the past three seasons have carried farther than 375 feet. Only .06% of home runs traveled 375-380 feet.
• Teams have become more dependent on the homer in recent seasons. Only 15 teams in MLB history have had a runs-via-home run rate of 50% or greater over a season, 10 of which occurred in the last two years.
• 59.7% of the Reds' runs came via the home run in 2020, by far the highest rate in a single season in MLB history.
• Most home run-reliant teams (runs via home run) in 2020:
• Least home run-dependent in 2020:
• Runs per game during regular season:
• At sportsbooks, the average over/under total for games last season was around 8.82, down from 2019's 9.14.
• Over/under season stats:
2020: 415 overs, 432 unders, 49 pushes (51.0% unders)
2019: 1,141 overs, 1,158 unders, 120 pushes (50.4% unders)
2018: 1,125 overs, 1,194 unders, 106 pushes (51.5% unders)
2017: 1,130 overs, 1,175 unders, 121 pushes (50.9% unders)
• Three-year average of runs per game per month:
• Three-year average of home runs per game per month:
• Most home runs by ballpark since 2018:
Yankee Stadium: 603
Camden Yards: 601
Coors Field: 574
Angel Stadium: 564
Great American Ballpark: 563
• Fewest home runs by ballpark since 2018:
Marlins Park: 353
Oracle Park: 370
Busch Stadium: 398
Kauffman Stadium: 399
Tropicana Field: 399
• Pitchers who surrendered most home runs per nine innings in 2018 and 2019 seasons:
*Among 150 pitchers with 200-plus innings pitched over that span
• Pitchers who surrendered the fewest homes runs per nine innings in 2018 and 2019:
*Among 150 pitchers with 200-plus innings pitched over that span.
ESPN Stats and Information researchers Michael Bonzagni and Jeffrey Lombardi contributed to this article.