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Juiced Baseballs Newsbeat

Monday, May 30, 2022

Adapt or Shake Your Head: Welcome Back to the New Normal, Hitters

As the home run rate in 2005 took its steepest decline in 17 years, scouts had a favorite line to explain why certain sluggers were not hitting as many home runs: “Congress got him.” The inference was that testing for steroids with penalties, which came about through pressure from lawmakers, changed the game. Sports Illustrated headlined a cover story I wrote that year, “Baseball’s Incredible Shrinking Slugger.”

This season the home run rate has taken its biggest drop in 34 years, from 2.44 per game to 2.00. And the favorite explanation this time around goes like this: “The baseball got him.”

By design, the baseball does not carry as far because of more uniform manufacturing specifications. (It was introduced last year, but this is the first season with 100% use of the less lively baseball.) Add the use of humidors in all 30 ballparks for more uniform storage protocols, and you get the end of a Rabbit Ball Era from 2016 to ‘21. The “Launch Angle Revolution” was driven by the mantra “Slug is in the air.” Hitters still want to get the ball airborne. It’s just that with this baseball, the rewards are not as great.

A baseball barreled up this year travels about six feet less than last year. Batting average on flyballs has dropped from .281 to .256 and slugging percentage on flyballs has sunk from .877 to .761.

The signature look to this season is the Head Shake. Night after night, hitters are walking back to the dugout shaking their heads after what they thought was a home run turned out to be a flyout.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 30, 2022 at 11:12 PM | 42 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Rob Manfred and M.L.B. Seek Consistency on Baseballs

While it was reported by Business Insider that two distinct baseballs were used during games in 2021, Manfred said that changes were implemented in the ball used in major league parks last season and that the league had been upfront about the modifications: He repeatedly cited a report the league had commissioned to study the ball, which found the top concern was improving consistency.

“The change we made in ’21 was intended to, and did, have the effect of centering the baseball in the range of specifications much more tightly,” Manfred said.

As had been reported, the league, which owns a minority stake in Rawlings, the exclusive manufacturer of the baseballs, experimented with humidors last season, testing them in “outlying” markets in terms of atmospheric conditions. Based on those results, humidors were installed at all parks for 2022. No other changes were implemented to the baseballs, all of which were made with the same specifications as 2021, according to the league.
Addressing the safety issue expressed by Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt and others, Manfred pointed out that while the number of hit basemen was not up overall — though it was for the Mets — league officials continued to seek a middle ground with the players on gripping the ball. The goal, he said, is finding a way to make pitchers more comfortable on the mound without returning to products, like Spider Tack, that are viewed by many as performance-enhancers because they allow pitchers to grip the ball better and spin it faster.

“We have two products out there that we’re testing, with both major league and minor league players, designed to deal with the grip issue,” Manfred said. “It’s two different approaches in terms of what’s better and more functional for players.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 10, 2022 at 11:15 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs, rob manfred

Monday, May 09, 2022

Mets hitting coach believes MLB is still using juiced balls for national TV games

Except in nationally televised games, if New York Mets hitting coach Eric Chavez is to be believed.

Speaking with Tim Healey of Newsday, Chavez claimed a number of his players told him the ball isn’t so dead when the team is playing on ESPN or any number of streaming services. He apparently didn’t believe it, until he watched his team play on “Sunday Night Baseball.”


And then in late April, two days before they played the Phillies on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” several hitters gave Chavez a heads up: Watch how the baseballs travel during the premier nationally televised game of the week. They had heard that the balls in those games were in some way different.

“I thought for a second, ‘You guys are full of it,’ ” Chavez said.

And then what happened?

“The ball was traveling farther — balls that weren’t hit as hard. And I’m like, wait a minute, that shouldn’t have happened,” Chavez said. “The ball was just traveling better. That was the eye test, but then we lined it up with what the analytics were telling us.”,

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 09, 2022 at 12:20 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

MLB baseball drag data now available

Data on the drag of MLB baseballs is now publicly available on Baseball Savant.

The new Drag Dashboard shows how the drag on the balls used in Major League games—which affects the distance the ball travels—has changed both from season to season and within seasons.

The drag coefficient of a baseball is one of two main factors driving the ball’s performance. It impacts how far the ball will carry once it’s hit. (The other is the coefficient of restitution, or “COR,” which impacts the exit velocity of the ball off the bat.)

A decrease in drag coefficient will cause an increase in batted ball distance, and vice versa. The general rule of thumb is: for a decrease in drag coefficient by 0.01, a ball hit with an exit velocity of 100 mph will travel approximately five feet farther. An increase of 0.01 in drag coefficient will decrease the batted ball distance by five feet.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 04, 2022 at 09:55 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: juiced baseballs

 

 

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