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Juiced Ball Newsbeat

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

New York Mets’ Pete Alonso posits that MLB ‘manipulates the baseball’ based on free-agent class

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said Wednesday that he disagrees with MLB’s crackdown on pitcher-friendly foreign substances, and that the larger issue facing the sport is the league’s manipulation of baseballs depending on free-agent class—a theory he presented as “fact.”

“The biggest concern is MLB manipulates the baseball year in and year out depending on free-agency class, or guys being in an advanced part of their arbitration,” Alonso said during a videoconference with reporters.

Asked in a follow-up question if the idea of MLB manipulating baseballs based on free-agent class is something players “talk about and believe in,” Alonso replied, “Oh no, that’s a fact.”

He continued: “In 2019, there was a huge class of free-agent pitchers and then that’s quote-unquote ‘the juiced balls,’ and then 2020 was a strange year with the COVID season. But now that we’re back to playing in a regular season with a ton of shortstops or position players that are going to be paid a lot of money like high-caliber players—I mean, yeah, that’s not a coincidence. It’s definitely something that they do.”,

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 09, 2021 at 11:33 PM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced ball, pete alonso

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Where Did the Homers Go?

Unsurprisingly, in all of the bins most affected by the new baseball, we’re witnessing an associated decline in the overall probability the batter will reach base. We know how good defensives have become; if more balls are staying in the yard, it was always extraordinarily unlikely that they’ll be going for hits at the same rates. But to see a 32-point decline, as in the example of the 95-99 mph exit velocity, 20-24 degree launch angle bin, is striking. Batters were more often than not reaching base on those types of batted balls in April 2019. In April 2021, they only reached base one in five times.

More generally, you’ll notice once again that most of the affected batted balls are those below 30 degrees in launch angle. This makes sense, considering this type of contact — lower-hit fly balls — would be most impacted by an increase in drag when hitting a home run is a binary, “Did it go over the wall?” question. (Meaning that, even if higher-hit baseballs aren’t going as far, they’re just not going as many rows back into the seats.) To get a larger sample for our distributions, we can compare all fly balls below 30 degrees, irrespective of exit velocity, and have more than 1,000 batted balls to analyze…

The effect is the same. Home runs are down, outs are up. Batters reached base on 54% of fly balls hit at a launch angle below 30 degrees in April 2021, down 11 points compared to April 2019, when they reached base 65% of the time.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 09, 2021 at 01:01 PM | 130 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced ball

Monday, April 26, 2021

Are Pitchers Being More Aggressive With the New Ball?

This is not solely an investigation into deGrom; he is just emblematic of what might be a league-wide trend. Through games played on April 24, 55% of four-seam fastballs were in the strike zone — a figure that, if it holds, would mark the highest four-seam Zone% of the pitch tracking era. Though more four-seam fastballs have been thrown in the strike zone in recent years, 2021 represents a statistically significant tick up, with a p-value of practically zero.

League-wide four-seam fastball Zone% had been extraordinarily stable over the last eight years: From 2013 through ’20, it never rose above 53.7% and never fell below 53.1%. Even looking at this rate on a month-to-month basis, it did not vary significantly: Since 2018, the highest monthly four-seam Zone% was 54.6, in August of that year, which is the only month that falls within the 95% confidence interval for the “true” 2021 four-seam Zone% thus far.

There could be all sorts of reasons why we’re seeing this league-wide shift — and we can’t totally rule out noise — but my first thought was that pitchers are feeling more comfortable attacking the strike zone with the new baseball. Indeed, we’re seeing this uptick mostly occur among fastballs thrown at least 95 mph. If you’re worried less about giving up the long ball, why not pour more hard fastballs in the zone? After all, pitchers are throwing harder again this year, so if fewer non-squared-up baseballs are going for extra-base hits, then they may feel as if they have much more margin for error and can throw more pitches in the zone.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 26, 2021 at 05:55 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced ball

 

 

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