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Juiced Baseballs Newsbeat

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Cards’ front office says playoff baseballs have lost juice

The St. Louis Cardinals’ front office says baseballs have suddenly lost their juice this postseason, supporting a claim from a prominent data scientist that the balls have changed following a historic, homer-friendly regular season.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Saturday that St. Louis’ analytics department has found the ball is flying 4 ½ fewer feet on average in the postseason. Players in both leagues have been stunned when hard-hit balls have fallen on the warning track this month, raising more questions about the makeup of the baseballs after hitters clubbed a record 6,776 home runs in the regular season — a rise attributed to unusually far-flying balls.

“I mean there’s probably all kind of different theories behind that that I won’t really get into,” Shildt said before a 3-1 loss to Washington in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series. “Just the fact of the matter, it could be any number of things.”

The numbers don’t leave much doubt, says data journalist Rob Arthur. He was among the first to suggest tweaks to the ball may have caused home runs to spike as early as 2015, and he thinks something is off with this year’s October model, too.

So, where were these balls during the regular season, and what do we do to have them used during it?

 

QLE Posted: October 13, 2019 at 12:25 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, juiced baseballs, playoffs

Friday, September 27, 2019

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: ‘We Need To Make A Change To The Baseball’

With the massive increase in the number of home runs, could changes be coming to baseballs used in Major League Baseball and the Minors for the upcoming season? That was a question I asked MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred as part of an exclusive interview for Forbes.

To date there have been 6,590 home runs in MLB; a new single-season record, and the home run rate in Triple-A, where the MLB baseball has been used, was up 50% for the season. For more than two years, the league has addressed questions from not only the media, but pitchers about changes to the construction of baseballs that have been partly attributed to a spike in the number of home runs in the game. The league gathered a group of scientists that examined the ball as part of the increase in home runs starting in 2015. The league’s report showed that at least part of the increase was due to reduced drag on the ball. Additional research by Dr. Meredith Wills showed that changes to the lace thickness has created a rounder baseball as a likely reason for the change in drag.

Manfred said that the league is going back and taking another look at the baseballs.

“We have reconvened the group of scientists that worked with us before [on the initial study],” he said. “We’ve asked them to take a fresh look at everything that is occurring with the baseball. We expect to get this new report shortly after the World Series.”

Given what we know about Manfred’s decision-making processes, I wouldn’t get our hopes up…..

 

QLE Posted: September 27, 2019 at 12:07 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: home run derby, juiced baseballs, manfred is thinking about it

Monday, September 23, 2019

Giants’ Madison Bumgarner convinced balls are juiced: ‘No denying it’

Madison Bumgarner isn’t one to mince words, and recently the Giants starting pitcher said what everyone’s been thinking.

The balls are juiced.

“There’s no denying it,” Bumgarner told The San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t think anybody at this point is denying the ball is different. It’s definitely different, and it’s affecting a lot of the all-time stats.”

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and a simple glance at the home run leaderboard serves to confirm Bumgarner’s suspicion. While New York’s Pete Alonso is the only player thus far to reach the 50-homer plateau, there are another seven players in the forties, and another 47 in the thirties.

Mind you, it’s not so much that he’s wrong, and more that he’s a little late to the parade…..

 

QLE Posted: September 23, 2019 at 01:04 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs, madison bumgarner

Saturday, September 07, 2019

The juiced ball is not a “looming problem” for the players union

Players have long known it. Scientists have confirmed it. The numbers, quite clearly, bear it out. Eventually even Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball admitted it. The ball is juiced and it’s led to a massive uptick in offense.

How and why it got juiced is a tad more complicated. Major League Baseball is fully and 100% in control of the manufacturing of baseballs. They literally own the company that makes them. They say the juicing was inadvertent. A quality control issue or, looking at it another way, a function of the technology of ball-making being too good. Too exact.

At least one player, Justin Verlander, has publicly accused Major League Baseball of intentionally juicing the ball to increase offense. I have heard through the grapevine that many other players are privately discussing that, even if they’re unwilling to say it out loud. We can’t know for sure without more information, but given the history of juiced baseballs, we can’t rule it out, even with MLB’s denials. I mean, they denied the ball was different for a couple of years before finally acknowledging it, right?

At this point, the column took a sudden turn, to put it mildly…..

QLE Posted: September 07, 2019 at 12:19 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs, mlbpa

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Triple-A homers increased by nearly 60% this season thanks to the juiced baseball

Minor league broadcaster and writer Tim Hagerty tweeted last night that the now-concluded Triple-A season absolutely shattered its all-time home run record. Last year there were 3,652 homers in the top minor league. This year: 5,749. The only significant difference between this year and last year: the introduction of the major league ball to the minors.

As Jayson Stark of The Athletic notes this morning, that number includes a 59 percent increase in homers in the Pacific Coast League over last year and a 57 percent increase in the International League.  Stark talks with a baseball executive who tells him that, from a development perspective, the PCL has now become essentially useless, and they are sending prospects to Double-A instead because the juiced ball is preventing clubs from accurately assessing players.

Something I can testify to from firsthand witnessing- and probably will have more data on in the next couple of days.

 

QLE Posted: September 04, 2019 at 12:29 AM | 74 comment(s)
  Beats: home run derby, home run spike, juiced baseballs, triple a

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

New Ball Has Made 2019 A Season Unlike Any Other

Logically, the eye test would say that our hypothetical outfielder got a good bit better as the season wore on. After all, he improved in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and he showed more home run power.

Actually, he got worse. In Double-A, the average hitter is hitting .241/.319/.371 this year. So the aforementioned .740 OPS means he was significantly outproducing his peers in on-base and slugging percentage. This year, the average Triple-A hitter is hitting .272/.349/.466. Therefore, the 25-year-old outfielder’s .800 OPS is actually below-average among Triple-A hitters. In total, a .690 OPS in Double-A is average for the classification in 2019, but you have to post an .815 OPS in Triple-A to be treading water.

The leaderboards explain it as well.

There are six batting qualifiers in all of Double-A (30 teams) who are slugging .500 or better. There are eight batting qualifiers in all of high Class A (30 teams) who are slugging .500 or better. There are two batting qualifiers in all of low Class A (30 teams) who are slugging .500 or better. So, for the 90 teams in low Class to Double-A, there are 16 hitters who are slugging .500 or better.

In Triple-A, there are 43 qualified hitters in the Pacific Coast League who are slugging .500 or better and another 22 in the International League. There are 15 batting qualifiers in the Triple-A leagues who are slugging better than .600. No one below Triple-A is slugging .600.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 07, 2019 at 12:17 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Verlander: MLB juicing balls for more offense

“It’s a f—-ing joke,” said Verlander, an eight-time All-Star who is starting his second All-Star Game on Tuesday. “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.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 09, 2019 at 07:47 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The balls aren’t juiced: MLB explains rise in home runs

Manfred cited last year’s report, written by a committee of scientists and data specialists, which identified the pill at the center of the ball playing a factor. If the pill is not perfectly centered, the ball wobbles when hit and creates more drag.

“We think one of the things that may be happening is they’re getting better at centering the pill, [which] creates less drag,” Manfred said. “In addition to that, there’s all these man-made issues: hand-stitched, where it’s stored after it’s made, where it’s stored at the ballpark, who puts the mud on the ball, how much mud they put on the ball. It’s really difficult to isolate any single cause. But we do think it’s a drag issue.”

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 22, 2019 at 12:38 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs

Monday, May 27, 2019

Giants must alter evaluation approach due to changes in minor leagues | NBCS Bay Area

The league has always been offense-crazy, but this season has seen new levels of production. The PCL started using MLB balls and lineups have taken off in a league where altitude was already an issue for pitchers. Teams are averaging 5.62 runs per game and an OPS of .816, and the league-wide ERA is 5.29.

“It’s a little bit like playing in Coors Field everywhere you go,” Suarez said.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 27, 2019 at 08:33 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, juiced baseballs, minor leagues

Giants must alter evaluation approach due to changes in minor leagues

SAN FRANCISCO—Andrew Suarez looked up during one of his minor league starts earlier this year, saw that the Sacramento River Cats were down five runs, and thought, “We can still win this.”

The thought process wasn’t simply about being optimistic. It was about being realistic in the Pacific Coast League.

The league has always been offense-crazy, but this season has seen new levels of production. The PCL started using MLB balls and lineups have taken off in a league where altitude was already an issue for pitchers. Teams are averaging 5.62 runs per game and an OPS of .816, and the league-wide ERA is 5.29.

“It’s a little bit like playing in Coors Field everywhere you go,” Suarez said.

A reminder of why having offensive explosions in AAA isn’t necessarily a good idea.

 


Monday, May 13, 2019

Triple-A batters smashing it since MLB ball is put into play

Balls are flying out of Triple-A ballparks like never before, coinciding with a switch in baseballs to the major league model.

The El Paso Chihuahuas have hit 89 home runs in their first 37 games — the most in professional baseball and more than half the 142 they slugged in 139 games last season. The Rochester Red Wings and Lehigh Valley IronPigs combined for 15 homers in a game last month. Overall, 26 of the 30 teams in the Pacific Coast League and International League are on pace to exceed their 2018 totals, most by a wide margin.

Not coincidentally, this is the first year Triple-A has played with the same ball used in the majors. The big league ball is said to be harder, more tightly wound at its core and with slightly lower seams, all of which make it more aerodynamic than the ball used at the Double-A level and lower and previously in Triple-A.

Bigger offensive numbers were expected when Major League Baseball requested the highest level of the minor leagues switch to balls to more closely align with conditions in the big leagues.

So, how long before we get a revival of Home Run Derby?

QLE Posted: May 13, 2019 at 04:19 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: home run spike, juiced baseballs, triple a

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Jon Lester is convinced MLB ball is juiced, but he’s pitching better than ever

Let’s set the scene: Less than a half hour after the Cubs doused Kris Bryant with Gatorade after his walk-off heroics, Jon Lester sat at the podium in the warm and cozy press room deep inside Wrigley Field after he battled the Marlins on a May 7 evening that felt more like Feb. 7 with a 31-degree windchill.

Lester had just battled the wintry conditions and won and the Cubs had just celebrated a clutch hit from their slow-starting former MVP, yet the third question posed to the veteran pitcher was about the state of the baseball MLB continues to run out and if he thinks they’re different than normal.

There’s a lot of talk about how the baseball is “juiced” this year and the evidence supports it. The weather has yet to turn favorable for hitters, but that isn’t stopping MLB sluggers from mashing the most homers per game ever.

In 2019, MLB teams are averaging 1.30 homers per game, up from 1.26 in 2017 and the 1.17 average in 2000.

Well, yes- it’s only a problem if the batters can hit them….

 

QLE Posted: May 08, 2019 at 04:15 AM | 49 comment(s)
  Beats: jon lester, juiced baseballs

Saturday, May 04, 2019

David Price wants MLB to “come clean” on the juiced baseballs

We’ve talked a lot about juiced baseballs over the past couple of years. The evidence that the seams are shorter and that the ball has less drag on it is pretty clear and the numbers are undeniable.

March/April 2019 witnessed more homers — 1144 — than any month in baseball history. On a per game average, that comes out to 2.62 per game, which is one of the highest rates for a month in Major League history. Keep in mind, of course, that the first month of the season usually sees the lowest home run rates of the year due to the cold weather. It’s only going to get worse. Or better, depending on what you think of homers.

You know who doesn’t like home runs? Pitchers. And one pitcher really wants Major League Baseball to own up to the juiced baseballs.

I forget- does anyone still really dig the long ball at this point?

QLE Posted: May 04, 2019 at 04:39 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: david price, juiced baseballs

Friday, April 19, 2019

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals

There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

So, does this mean they all ought to be put in a humidor?

 

QLE Posted: April 19, 2019 at 09:41 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs, triple a

 

 

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