On April 16, Chicago White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal launched a fly ball off of Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Corey Kluber to deep left-center field. Grandal appeared to believe he had homered, dropping his bat with confidence and momentarily admiring the ball flight. The ball very likely would have left the playing field in recent seasons. But this isn't 2021 or 2019.

Baseballs aren't traveling as far at Guaranteed Rate Field and many other major-league ballparks this April compared to recent seasons. Up against the left-center wall, Tampa Bay outfielder Brett Phillips caught Grandal's fly ball.

Through Monday, batted balls classified as "barrels" - well-struck balls with launch angles between 26-30 degrees that leave the bat at a minimum of 98 mph - are traveling 4 feet fewer on the South Side of Chicago, according to Statcast distance estimates.

The average barrel distance is down in 22 of the 30 MLB parks compared to the same time period - April 7-25 - last year.

If you've noticed fewer runs scored and fewer homers, you're on to something. Teams are averaging exactly 4.0 runs per game, which would represent the lowest run-scoring average since 1981 if it holds over the full season. During the same period last April, teams scored 4.2 runs per game.

The MLB rate of home runs among all fly balls is 10% early this season compared to 13.3% during the same period last year, according to FanGraphs. The last time the HR/FB rate was in the single digits for a full season was 2014 (9.5%).

So what's going on? A lot, perhaps, involving the ball itself, outfield positioning, and humidors. Perhaps reducing the liveliness of the ball wasn't the best idea at a time when pitchers' skill level keeps increasing. Be careful what you wish for.

One issue is that after using two baseballs last year - a livelier older version and a deadened one - MLB is using only the new, deader baseball this season, according to a memo obtained by The Athletic's Eno Sarris and Ken Rosenthal. That baseball is supposed to fly a few feet less on longer fly balls.