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Sunday, November 21, 2021

MLB trying to get a new grip on baseball

Offense continued its year-long plummet in the early months of 2021. MLB identified a contributing culprit: pitchers using sticky substances such as Spider Tack to increase spin for the purposes of turning the baseball into a Wiffle ball released from a rocket launcher.

In an effort to tilt the playing field back a bit toward hitters, owners voted on June 3 to have umpires actively enforce the ban on foreign substances, with regular policing beginning June 21. The decision had a clear effect.

Meanwhile, scoring rose, from 4.36 runs per game through June 3 to 4.62 runs per game thereafter. While scoring was influenced in part by the warmer weather and fatigue experienced by many pitchers as the season progressed, MLB believes the decision to enforce the ban on foreign substances by having umpires check pitchers’ gloves, hats, and belts achieved its intended effect.

“As we said in June, the prevalent use of foreign substances created an uneven playing field and contributed to a lack of action,” an MLB spokesperson wrote in an e-mail. “After the plans for enforcement became known, the league-wide offensive environment improved by virtually every measure. We believe that the increased enforcement of the existing rules was effective in leveling the playing field and deterring unfair competitive advantages.”

Yet deterrence may have waned. After the All-Star break, players, teams, and coaches often noted behaviors — pitchers wiping their hands on parts of their body that umpires weren’t inspecting, whether through their hair or their thigh or their ear — that raised suspicion.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 21, 2021 at 12:03 PM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: foreign substances

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   1. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: November 21, 2021 at 02:41 PM (#6053868)
Yet deterrence may have waned. After the All-Star break, players, teams, and coaches often noted behaviors — pitchers wiping their hands on parts of their body that umpires weren’t inspecting, whether through their hair or their thigh or their ear — that raised suspicion.


Maybe pitchers were back to doing something but this just sounds like a lot of paranoia. These guys are in hitters' heads pretty well. Some pitcher needs to start doing a full Gaylord and rubbing his whole body before throwing a pitch.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: November 21, 2021 at 05:30 PM (#6053890)
Hard to say. A perfunctory hat/glove inspection is pretty lame enforcement and easy enough to find a way around it. I still think a random ball check several times in a game is the way to go -- if there's goop on the ball, pitcher/catcher/manager all tossed. This notion that you have to find the source of the goop is silly.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: November 21, 2021 at 05:43 PM (#6053891)
Meanwhile, scoring rose, from 4.36 runs per game through June 3 to 4.62 runs per game thereafter. While scoring was influenced in part by the warmer weather and fatigue experienced by many pitchers as the season progressed, MLB believes the decision to enforce the ban on foreign substances by having umpires check pitchers’ gloves, hats, and belts achieved its intended effect.

This is silly. It would take the reporter about 10 minutes with stathead/excel (or a phone call to Stats) to find out what a typical April/May vs RoS split looks like, even simpler for pre/post-AS. That wouldn't "prove" anything one way or the other but it provides a superficial guess as to whether anything changed.
   4. sunday silence (again) Posted: November 21, 2021 at 08:28 PM (#6053915)
so what's the answer Walt? GIven seasonal trends, did the new enforcement make a difference in scoring?
   5. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: November 21, 2021 at 10:52 PM (#6053929)
I still think a random ball check several times in a game is the way to go


Eh, I dunno. Baseball players are already famous for performing ball checks several times a game, and it doesn't seem to have had any effect.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: November 21, 2021 at 11:11 PM (#6053930)
so what's the answer Walt?

Find it yourself.
   7. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: November 22, 2021 at 11:10 PM (#6054148)
I watched Game 1 of the 1995 World Series a couple weeks ago. It's on Youtube, you can (and should!) go watch it yourself if you're in the mood. Maddux and Hershiser. If you watch them, it's actually pretty damn obvious what each of their their ball-loading routines were and where on their persons they were getting whatever substance was all the rage in 1995. Pitchers have actually gotten a good deal less obvious about it since then, I think--that, or the TV cameras aren't lingering on them as much between pitches.

FWIW I still remember an acquaintance who had a low level staff job with the Dodgers in the 80s swearing that Hershiser in '88 figured out a novel way to cut the ball, and the league office told the Dodgers after the World Series that he was going too far and needed to knock it off. I always figured it for a tall tale because if that were an open secret Tony La Russa of all people would definitely have called him on it during a World Series game, right? But yaneverknow.
   8. sunday silence (again) Posted: November 23, 2021 at 02:07 AM (#6054169)
maybe after 1989? His 1989 season was statistically very much the same as 88, other than w/l record. Or maybe the scuffing was just one small part of what he was doing.
   9. TomH Posted: November 23, 2021 at 07:50 AM (#6054182)
using Fangraphs team stats with custom dates,

in 2021 thru June 3 the MLB KO% was 24.1%
after June 3 to end of year was 22.7%

wOBA went up by 11 pts, but that could be many factors (weather, for example); but it would seem that KO% would most directly relate to change in grip.

BB% also was a tick lower, 8.6% from 8.9%, so it wasn't that the pitchers were getting worse in general.
   10. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: November 23, 2021 at 11:07 PM (#6054436)
maybe after 1989? His 1989 season was statistically very much the same as 88, other than w/l record. Or maybe the scuffing was just one small part of what he was doing.


Yeah, that would tend to prove nothing changed between '88 and '89--and of course, his shoulder exploded on Opening Day 1990 and that was that. It's actually near miraculous that he returned from a catastrophic shoulder injury that usually ends a pitcher's career and hung on for nearly a decade more as a junkballer. I think he's still the only player to win the LCS MVP award in both leagues, having nabbed ALCS MVP in '95 with the Indians.

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