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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Korean Baseball Changes Ball Size

I only have this story as a couple of tweets from Sung Min Kim. Link to his 1st tweet above, quoted here for discussion:

Sung Min Kim (Verified account) @sung_minkim

The KBO is implementing a new baseball. It is 1 mm bigger and 1 g heavier, hoping that it could help neutralize the high-offense environment that the league is known for. According to a simulation run by the SK Wyverns, the ball resulted in 20% less home runs than the previous one. The KBO teams are currently in Spring Training so I’d assume they are working on getting used to the new baseballs at this moment. We’ll see how it works out not only on the home runs but also the spin rate metrics from Trackman.

And a reply:

JMan @yakball26
Replying to @sung_minkim @Buster_ESPN
Does the simulation adjust for additional strain on pitchers and injuries? It doesnt seem like much ... but 1 g can and will take a toll.

 

Bote Man Posted: February 05, 2019 at 03:55 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseballs, korean baseball, physics

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2019 at 04:01 PM (#5812441)
Interesting. I think MLB should take a close look at the results. A 20% decrease from last year's HR numbers would get us to 2013 levels. And I wonder if it would have an impact on K rates as well with a heavier ball and maybe fewer hitters selling out for home runs that aren't there.
   2. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: February 05, 2019 at 04:24 PM (#5812458)
Interesting. I think MLB should take a close look at the results. A 20% decrease from last year's HR numbers would get us to 2013 levels. And I wonder if it would have an impact on K rates as well with a heavier ball and maybe fewer hitters selling out for home runs that aren't there.


I agree. Now that I read this it feels weird that it never crossed my mind to consider just making the ball a tiny bit bigger. More contact, fewer walks, fewer home runs.

At the major league level, though, I worry that while you'd get a lot more contact, it would mostly come in the form of easy outs. I'd rather replace home runs with at least some singles and doubles, not just routine popouts and groundouts.
   3. Bote Man Posted: February 05, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5812468)
I'd rather replace home runs with at least some singles and doubles, not just routine popouts and groundouts.

But teams seem to consider it a good trade-off to swing for the fences and take the Ks that come with that. I call it the Ian Desmond Approach.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: February 05, 2019 at 04:46 PM (#5812474)
SK Wyverns. Sounds like a team from Baseball Stars.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2019 at 04:54 PM (#5812477)
I'd rather replace home runs with at least some singles and doubles, not just routine popouts and groundouts.


My hope would be that hitters, seeing less reward with home runs, would diversify their approach a bit with some guys becoming line drive spray hitters, but I guess we would have to see how it pans out.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: February 05, 2019 at 04:58 PM (#5812482)
Does the simulation adjust for additional strain on pitchers and injuries? It doesnt seem like much ... but 1 g can and will take a toll.


Who's to say that it doesn't make pitchers healthier? Would you rather throw a golf ball as hard as you can 100 times, or a football?
   7. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: February 05, 2019 at 05:04 PM (#5812487)
If shrunken balls are what led to the sillyball power surge, then swollen balls should stem the tide.
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 05, 2019 at 05:13 PM (#5812498)

It is 1 mm bigger and 1 g heavier, hoping that it could help neutralize the high-offense environment that the league is known for.

These numbers seem like they are well within the permitted variance for MLB balls (from the OFficial Rules: "It shall weigh not less than five nor more than 5¼ ounces avoirdupois and measure not less than nine nor more than 9¼ inches in circumference."). So while I believe it may have an impact on HRs, I doubt it will be as material as 20%, and I also doubt it will have much if any effect on injuries.
   9. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 05, 2019 at 06:14 PM (#5812524)
If shrunken balls are what led to the sillyball power surge


No no, you're mixing correlation with causation. There is a confounding variable there; steroids was the cause of both of those effects.
   10. KJOK Posted: February 05, 2019 at 06:44 PM (#5812528)
The Japanese League did this a couple years ago, and the results (lower offense) were pretty drastic. So drastic that they went back to the ball that is slightly smaller than the MLB one.

Asian pitchers on average are smaller than MLB pitchers, so it's very possible even small changes in the size of the ball could have an impact on their grip, and cause changes larger than what the simulations project.

   11. Brian C Posted: February 05, 2019 at 09:42 PM (#5812577)
If shrunken balls are what led to the sillyball power surge, then swollen balls should stem the tide.

But chicks dig the shrunken balls.
   12. Adam Starblind Posted: February 06, 2019 at 07:07 AM (#5812633)
If shrunken balls are what led to the sillyball power surge, then swollen balls should stem the tide.


Full credit for this response.
   13. Adam Starblind Posted: February 06, 2019 at 07:08 AM (#5812634)
Asian pitchers on average are smaller than MLB pitchers, so it's very possible even small changes in the size of the ball could have an impact on their grip, and cause changes larger than what the simulations project.


Changing your grip on shrunken balls could lead to all sorts of unintended consequences.
   14. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 06, 2019 at 12:02 PM (#5812745)
[2] At the major league level, though, I worry that while you'd get a lot more contact, it would mostly come in the form of easy outs. I'd rather replace home runs with at least some singles and doubles, not just routine popouts and groundouts.

I think it would, at first. As others have pointed out, the hope would be that hitters/coaches would adjust; of course this process would likely take a few years (although it sometimes seems as though the Launch Angle Revolution happened overnight). A different profile of hitters would find success, and good hitters would change their profiles.

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