Artificial Turf Is Making a Comeback in Major League Baseball

Five of MLB's 30 teams will play on turf in 2020

An MLB player on the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty)
An MLB player on the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty)
Toronto Star via Getty Images

In 1988’s Bull Durham, Kevin Costner’s character Crash Davis says, “I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter.”

It’s a good thing Davis isn’t playing in the MLB these days, as the designated hitter is alive and well in half of the league and artificial turf is experiencing a resurgence.

Prior to the start of the 2020 season, three of MLB’s 30 teams — the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and Miami Marlins — made the switch from grass to artificial turf. Though it’s only three teams, that’s actually quite a big increase as only two teams (the Toronto Blue Jays at the retractable-roof Rogers Centre and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field) played on artificial turf last season.

The turf the Rangers, D-Backs and Marlins will be playing on is called B1K, and it is produced by Georgia-based Shaw Sports Turf. Though it is synthetic, the teams believe the imitation grass mimics the real thing in terms of how it plays and affects the bodies of players.

“We didn’t want the best turf surface in Major League Baseball, we wanted the best playing surface in Major League Baseball,” Rangers executive VP for business operations Rob Matwick told The Wall Street Journal. “People might say baseball should be played on grass. I’d say it should be played on the best quality surface we could put our players on.”

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