Justin Verlander accuses MLB of 'juicing baseballs' for more offense

Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros pitches against the Los Angeles Angels as part of the Mexico Series at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on May 5, 2019, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. (Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Former Detroit Tigers star pitcher Justin Verlander made waves this week after accusing Major League Baseball of purposely changing baseballs to increase offense.

Verlander, who has allowed the most home runs (26) in MLB this year, told ESPN on Monday that the balls used in MLB games this season are "a f---ing joke" and that he believes "100 percent" that the league has implemented juiced balls to increase offense.

"Major League Baseball's turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you've got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f---ing company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it's not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what'd he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It's not coincidence. We're not idiots."

Asked if he believed the balls were intentionally juiced by the league, Verlander said: "Yes. 100 percent. They've been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever. They know how to do it. It's not coincidence. I find it really hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced."

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged the difference in balls, but denied any involvement from the league.

"We think what's been going on this year is attributable to the baseball," Manfred told ESPN's Golic and Wingo. "Our scientists that have been now studying the baseball more regularly have told us that this year the baseball has a little less drag. It doesn't need to change very much in order to produce meaningful change in terms of the way the game is played on the field. We are trying to understand exactly why that happened and build out a manufacturing process that gives us a little more control over what's going on. But you have to remember that our baseball is a handmade product and there's gonna be variation year to year."

Meanwhile, former Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez thinks it's the hitter's approach that is leading to more home runs.

"It's a power-arm league," Martinez said. "It's either a walk or a strikeout -- stuff over command. I think you see a lot more mistakes over the plate. The velocity, the guys trying to hit the ball in the air -- I think it's a recipe for home runs."

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