What happens in the first month of a given Major League Baseball season isn't necessarily indicative of what will happen in the next five months, yet the 2021 campaign has already birthed an alarming trend.
Hitting, which was already notoriously difficult to begin with, is now basically impossible.
After more than a month's worth of games, hitters are tracking toward yet another strikeout record by whiffing in 24.3 percent of their plate appearances. They're also maintaining a .233 batting average, the lowest mark in the league's 150-year history.
Based on these numbers, there's never been a worse time to be a hitter in Major League Baseball. And while it might be easy to wave them off as small-sample-size weirdness, they begin to look more like an unavoidable fate as specific causes pile up.
The New Ball Is (Probably) Suppressing Home Runs
For anyone who missed the big news back in February, there's a new ball in play this year.
Contrary to the lively balls that helped facilitate record-setting home run outbursts in recent seasons, the new ball was effectively designed to curb home runs. It's lighter, but also less bouncy and supposedly more prone to drag in the air.
So far, it seems to be working as intended.