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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Stark: Where’s the mound? The Atlantic League’s latest lab experiment, three weeks in

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“If you move the mound back a foot, you would give hitters an extra 100th of a second (to react),” Epstein said, on a Starkville edition of The Athletic Baseball Show. “And that 100th of a second corresponds to basically like a tick and a half of velocity. Which would sort of mean that you’re restoring velocity to where it was maybe eight to 10 years ago, when the contract rate was a little bit better, the strikeout rate was a little bit more under control.”

So the thinking behind moving the mound is logical. And we’re all in favor of logic. But does it look like this mission is going to be a success? Well, it’s still really, really, really early. But so far, that answer would be no, actually.

We see there has been a slight uptick in homers and slugging. But is there appreciably more contact? ‘Fraid not….

Yep, the average fastball feels about 1.3 mph slower at 61 feet, 6 inches. But the pitchers don’t seem to mind that part as much as you’d think.

York pitcher Duke Von Schamann: “By the time I pitched the second time, it felt almost normal. I was surprised at how my body just kind of adapted to the new distance. And I found kind of my normal (throwing mechanics) pretty quickly.”

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 09:57 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: atlantic league, mound

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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 26, 2021 at 12:19 PM (#6036512)
Just deaden the ball such that pitchers don't have to fear contact and such that hitters don't think the hitting homers is the most likely way to score.
   2. bfan Posted: August 26, 2021 at 12:28 PM (#6036517)
This is one of those matters where the results, so far, just do not follow logic. If a hitter has more time to react (longer distance between the pitcher and home plate), he is going to swing and miss less. That just has to be true, doesn't it? I suspect there is something flawed with the results so far.
   3. cookiedabookie Posted: August 26, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6036536)
Breaking balls will break more, so I suspect strikes are just changing from the fastball bucket to the breaking ball bucket
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: August 26, 2021 at 02:12 PM (#6036540)
This is one of those matters where the results, so far, just do not follow logic. If a hitter has more time to react (longer distance between the pitcher and home plate), he is going to swing and miss less. That just has to be true, doesn't it? I suspect there is something flawed with the results so far.


I would think there would be a small effect, but since I've long said the growth in Ks was more a product of hitter approach than pitcher unhittability, the results don't surprise me. You gots to incentivize contact for hitters to get the game back in balance. Moving the mound back was not going to do that.
   5. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 02:17 PM (#6036542)
Only a Rob Manfred-chartered blue-ribbon think tank could conclude that giving contemporary batters additional reaction time would lead to them voluntarily trading home run swings for contact swings.
   6. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 02:21 PM (#6036545)
If a hitter has more time to react (longer distance between the pitcher and home plate), he is going to swing and miss less. That just has to be true, doesn't it?


I think that's true for fastballs, at least four-seamers that don't have much movement. But I can imagine breaking balls might get even tougher to hit.

As others have said, while I like this idea a lot, it has to be accompanied by a change on the batter's side to motivate them to make more contact, otherwise not much is going to change.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: August 26, 2021 at 03:52 PM (#6036563)
I'm surprised the pitchers could adjust so easily. Maybe the hitters haven't adjusted yet? As I think it through a bit .... Javy Baez has no strike zone judgment at 60-6, will he suddenly have more at 61-6? Maybe once he trained himself to start the swing later? But what's the result, a jump in his BB rate from 4% to 5%? What about a guy like Joey Gallo? He's already got good judgment but also has no problem striking out on strikes at 60-6 ... so we expect him to make a little more contact in the zone I guess which would be fun but are we talking more than reducing the K-rate from 30% to 28% while motivating pitchers to pitch around him more than they already do?

Still small changes can have big effects in baseball. I'd wait a bit until we're sure hitters have had a chance to adjust. The mix of 4-, 2- and breaking ball strikes would be interesting. I wonder if umpires are (subconsciously) calling a bigger strike zone to compensate?

Or the place to start before all this ... what are the current differences in batting against for 97, 95 and 93 MPH FBs? Between 82, 80, 78 MPH sliders? Etc.
   8. bfan Posted: August 26, 2021 at 04:38 PM (#6036572)
Maybe once he trained himself to start the swing later?


To me, this is the key change; you get that extra split second to recognize the pitch and start your swing or not start it.
   9. Russ Posted: August 27, 2021 at 10:33 AM (#6036681)
What if a home run became a ground rule double (the batter only gets to stop at second base, runners advance two bases)? This seems like the "easiest" fix. Just literally make outside the park home runs worth less than inside the park home runs.
   10. Adam Starblind Posted: August 27, 2021 at 01:18 PM (#6036715)
[9] Home runs are still awesome.
   11. GregD Posted: August 27, 2021 at 01:25 PM (#6036717)
What if a home run became a ground rule double (the batter only gets to stop at second base, runners advance two bases)? This seems like the "easiest" fix. Just literally make outside the park home runs worth less than inside the park home runs.
or just go slow pitch beer league softball style and make over the fence an out?
   12. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 27, 2021 at 01:31 PM (#6036719)

I'm surprised the pitchers could adjust so easily. Maybe the hitters haven't adjusted yet? As I think it through a bit .... Javy Baez has no strike zone judgment at 60-6, will he suddenly have more at 61-6?


We had this discussion a few months ago when it was first purposed. It seemed to obvious at least to me that if you have a 0.5 seconds to react to a fastball then increasing 1 ft over 60.5 ft is adding .01 to your reaction time. How can that help?

Ive thought about the increasing break aspect of the curve ball and that also seems more of an illusion than anything. If say a curve ball broke 18" and assume all of its break occurred in the last 20 ft; both of these assumptions being generous. Then you're adding 1 ft/20 so about 5% of travel. So a super curve ball would break one inch more?

I mean that's the basic math. I presume there are some details because the ball does slow down after being thrown. I thought we covered much of this before though.
   13. Biscuit_pants Posted: August 27, 2021 at 02:10 PM (#6036733)
But I can imagine breaking balls might get even tougher to hit.


Breaking balls that break too early, break more but are easier to hit. It is not about the amount of break but disguising the break for as long as possible.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 27, 2021 at 03:25 PM (#6036756)

As others have said, while I like this idea a lot, it has to be accompanied by a change on the batter's side to motivate them to make more contact, otherwise not much is going to change.


I think they want to also deaden the ball. Hard to say if that combo will have the desired effect. I highly doubt moving the mound gets adopted, more likely you'll see it lowered.

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