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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: juiced baseballs, rob manfred

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   1. The Duke Posted: May 10, 2022 at 12:19 PM (#6076063)
It's the NYT so it's not a deep dive but even for a surface article - this is pretty light stuff.

Personally, while this change has been jolting, I love the idea that teams need to figure out how to win without the HR. I like that it's hurting the launch angle crowd and that guys who have no business hitting HRs have stopped hitting HRs. Another thing I've seen more of is that hitters are starting to choke up and shorten their swing in two strike counts instead of selling out for HRs.

It won't happen right away but the stolen base may come back into play as well as the out of fashion sac fly. The Cardinals are doing a ton of stealing and going from first to third on everything.
   2. JJ1986 Posted: May 10, 2022 at 01:25 PM (#6076073)
Rob Manfred and M.L.B., who are in charge of baseballs, Seek Consistency on Baseballs
   3. Walt Davis Posted: May 10, 2022 at 08:06 PM (#6076133)
guys who have no business hitting HRs have stopped hitting HRs

Like 2B Jazz Chisholm (#3 in ISO), SS Willy Adames (#5), the 3B quartet of Arenado (4), Riley (6), Wisdom (9), Machado (10), C/CF Daulton Varsho (12), utility IF Jurickson Profar (18), journeyman Connor Joe (22) and 2B Ozzie Albies (25)? A guy like Wisdom is nothing but EV and LA. Noted slugger CJ Cron currently leads the league. Still some oafs here -- Tellez, Schwarber, Vogelbach ... not sure I'd call Castellanos an "oaf" but I'd rather not have him playing in the field. They don't qualify but guys like Brandon Drury, Joc Pederson, Jon Berti, Michael Chavis, Ha-Seong Kim are hitting for big ISOs in noticeable PAs. Even Nick Ahmed (only 43 PAs) has a 256 ISO.

Per b-r, Chisholm is just 5-11, 184 but is on pace for 30 HR (and 18 triples!) and 325 TB. Salvador Perez doesn't look like he's gonna challenge last year's record 48 but he's still on pace for 30. Mookie's HR% is 4.2 (career 4.0). Altuve has missed some time but he's on pace for 30-35 HR as is Astros' SS Jeremy Pena. But then Pena is 6-0, 202. Willy Adames is listed at 6-0, 210 which sounds like a guy who should be hitting HRs. Not a big deal but Nico Hoerner didn't hit any HRs in 2020 or 2021 (296 total PA) but has 2 already this year.

Obviously many of those will prove to be small-sample flukes ... but then some of the Baez, Semien, Muncy, Turner, etc. crowd will start smashing HRs again. Without question, overall HR% is way down, from 3.3% to 2.5% so far. But it's far from clear that this isn't pretty universal. Joey Gallo, Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Grandal are struggling just as much as Baez et al. Meanwhile Yordan Alvarez is on a 50-HR pace which is nothing compared to Buxton's 72-HR pace if he could just stay in the lineup.

Most relevantly ... b-r doesn't have LA data but average EV was 88.1 in 2021, 88.3 this year; hard-hit% was 38.8 up to 39.3. The ball is being hit the same, it's just not traveling as far. The guys with big EV and the right LA will still be among the league-leaders in HR and ISO. The raw totals will drop, any guys who feasted on HRs just over the wall will be in trouble (but that wasn't Gallo I don't think).

Last year, Chisholm had an avgEV of 90.2 and LA of 9 but still his HRs traveled an avg of 405 feet; this year his EV is 91.5, LA is way up to 19 but his HRs are going just 391 feet. That LA is 23rd, same as Adames, slightly more than Semien and Seager. (Semien's problem is a big drop in EV.) So Chisholm seems to have learned the opposite lesson you apparently want to teach him and has added LA and power to his game.
   4. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 10, 2022 at 10:44 PM (#6076164)
Walt what is it you're trying to get at? HRs are clearly down in both leagues.

But "No" its "...far from universal." What does that even mean? YOu seem to acknowledge that it is:

"...the ball is being hit the same, its just not traveling as far." Is that as universal a thing as anything in baseball can be?

Im trying to envision a league where HRs are down, but not universally. Would it look like the Al of the 1920s or so when a handful of batters like Foxx, Gehrig, Simmons, Ruth hit lots of HRs but most players didnt? Is that what you're getting at? But that doesnt seem to be the sort of league that exists these days. Lots of players hit the high 30s for yearly HRs but almost no one hits 50. is that what you mean? The distribution of the HRs among the leaders is different?

Im probably missing something. Like I said Im having a hard time understanding what your arguing. Citing a handful of players would seem to go against basic principles of statistics. One can always find outliers even in a league where HRs are down 25%.
   5. The Duke Posted: May 10, 2022 at 10:55 PM (#6076168)
Fangraphs had a completely nerdy article on this today: here is the conclusion

Summary

In summary, we have investigated changes in the in-play home run rates for the 2018-22 seasons, using April ’18 as our reference. We have developed a technique to separate the changes into those due to changes in launch conditions and those due to changes in carry. We have further shown that the latter are directly correlated with changes in the density-corrected drag coefficient. Finally we have shown that the significant reduction in the in-play home run rate for the 2022 season relative to April ’21 is due in part to changes in launch conditions (approximately one-third) and in part to changes in the drag (approximately two-thirds).

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