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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Is the Baseball’s Composition Influencing the Game’s Economics?

Earlier this month, Gerrit Cole signed the richest deal in history for a pitcher. For the $324 million he will receive over the next nine years, he can thank his own prodigious talent, the analytically-driven coaching he got during two years with the Astros, superagent Scott Boras … and perhaps one other factor: the baseball itself.

The wild fluctuations in the sports’ most essential equipment are exasperating GMs, broadcasters and fans. They may also be influencing the economics of the game.

This has been a long time coming. Midway through the 2015 season, baseballs used in MLB games suddenly changed. Players noticed lower seams. Pitchers began reporting blisters. Most noticeably, the home run rate spiked. In ’17, the sport set a new longball record of 6,105. (The previous high, set during ’00, in the thick of the steroid era, was 5,693.) The next spring, a study commissioned by Rob Arthur, then of ESPN, found that the composition of the ball had been modified: the cores were less dense, which makes them bouncier and more likely to fly farther. Three months later, MLB bought Rawlings, which manufactures the balls, in the name of standardization. In ’19, hitters shattered the ’17 record, swatting 6,776 homers.

And then the playoffs began. Balls that in April would have been gone were in October settling safely into outfielders’ gloves. Hitters found themselves in trouble on the basepaths as they celebrated what turned out to be long singles. TV cameramen struggled to follow the unfamiliar parabolas. Fans in packed postseason stadiums could not decide whether to boo or cheer. Arthur, now at Baseball Prospectus, calculated the drag factor on the balls and found it dramatically reduced from the regular season, more like the balls of 2016. Teams began moving their outfielders in.

Complete with quotes from a longtime site associate!



QLE Posted: December 25, 2019 at 01:30 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: economics, juiced baseballs

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. depletion Posted: December 27, 2019 at 09:18 AM (#5911176)
Once, when I was about 9, I hit a Superball with a 30 oz. bat and it went over Zuckerman's house. They had a pretty big house, so it went really far. Unfortunately it was Richie's Superball, so he lost it. So, yeah, the composition of the ball affects world economics.

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