It’s not just your imagination.

Home runs are down compared to recent Aprils, and the first thing to ask, of course, is why: Is it because of the ball, because of the humidors installed in 20 new stadiums this past offseason, or some combination of the two? And depending on the cause, will the rate rise in the summer months, when Major League Baseball anticipates that the humidors may actually increase offense, rather than decrease it?

The ball is the first place to look. In the past, we might have said balls — a pointed reference to 2021, when production issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to use balls from both the shortened 2020 season as well as the “deader” ones introduced in 2021.

But this ball, at least, is coming from a single manufacturing batch, according to the league. In a March 29 memo sent to general managers, assistant GMs, managers, clubhouse managers and heads of stadium operations, the commissioner’s office said, “Those production issues have now been resolved and the 2022 season will be played with only balls manufactured after the 2021 production change. No manufacturing changes have been made for the 2022 season.”

Of course, as demonstrated by the chart below, home runs are down only in comparison to recent so-called “juiced ball” seasons. A spike to end all spikes occurred in 2019. The league commissioned a Home Run committee. The committee made recommendations about the ball and its storage, the league followed most of them, and the home run rate essentially has returned to where it had been in the mid-2010s. Considering the league wants to reduce the prevalence of the three true outcomes (home runs, walk, strikeouts) and create more action, more balls in play, maybe the decline is actually consistent with what they’re going for.

The problem is that the strikeout rate has been soaring through the latter half of this graph. If we combine 2014 home run rates with 2022 strikeout rates, we get the current .232 April batting average, which is worse than the mid-.240s we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. Run scoring is down big, back down to 1980s levels if the current trends hold.

Fans got used to the extra home runs, and they are currently gone. But the condition might only be temporary.

At the moment, hitters might be behind pitchers coming off the shortened spring in 2022, just as they were coming off the shortened spring in 2020. But rosters will be reduced from 28 to 26 on May 2, and teams, for the first time, will be restricted to carrying a set number of pitchers: 13. Starting pitchers might need to go longer when extra relievers are not available. Hitters might benefit from seeing relievers more often during a series.