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Thread: The MLB Thread

  1. #2011

    Re: The MLB Thread

    MLB finally admits changes to ball itself fueled home run spike, but doesn’t say how or why
    By Dave Sheinin
    May 24 at 5:30 PM

    Major League Baseball on Thursday confirmed for the first time something pitchers in the sport have been saying for more than two years: that changes to the composition and/or behavior of the baseball are responsible, at least in part, for the surge in home runs since the middle of the 2015 season. What remains unexplained, however, is what exactly those changes were, or why they occurred.

    A committee of 10 scientists and data specialists, formed by Commissioner Rob Manfred, concluded in a report released Thursday that home run surge can be explained, at least partially, by “a change in the aerodynamic properties” of the ball — specifically, “reduced drag for given launch conditions.”

    The home run surge “is not due to either a livelier, ‘juiced’ ball, or any change in batter or pitcher behavior,” the report concluded. “It seems, instead, to have arisen from a decrease in the ball’s drag properties, which cause it to carry further than previously, given the same set of initial conditions — exit velocity, launch and spray angle, and spin. So there is indirect evidence that the ball has changed, but we don’t yet know how.”

    [Archive: MLB tried to debunk ‘juiced balls’ theory amid historic home run spike. Pitchers remain skeptical.]

    “The great mystery is: What in the world has happened that we’ve had a small change in drag — it isn’t large — but one that seems to be systematic enough that it’s affecting offense,” said committee member Lloyd Smith, a professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Washington State University. “We’ve done every test you could imagine, and we just couldn’t nail it down. It’s in there. It’s in the data someplace. But it’s going to take a lot more time and effort [to solve].

    “Just to figure out the ‘what’ — is drag there or not? — we had to measure the drag of 22 dozen baseballs. And this was by itself a solid month of two technicians in a lab firing baseballs through the air and seeing how their drag changes.”

    Though the committee was unable to prove the exact cause of the reduced drag — the “why” — it offered several hypotheses, including that the rubber “pill” at the ball’s core may be more centered in recent years, or that the ball may be staying rounder.

    According to, MLB’s home run rate grew in every season from 2014 (0.86 per team-game) to 2017 (1.26), before falling slightly this season (1.13 through Wednesday).

    The committee’s findings supported Manfred’s contention, made repeatedly the past few years, that nothing material had changed in the manufacturing or the specifications of the baseball. The committee said it found no changes to the size, weight, seam height or coefficient of restitution (or “bounciness”) that would explain the increase.

    According to Smith, natural variations in the materials used to produce baseballs, including wool yarn and leather covers stitched by hand, give each ball a higher degree of variance in properties than would be found in, say, golf balls.

    “While it cannot be ruled out that small year-to-year variations in these properties might be a minor contributing factor to the home run surge said,” the report said, “these changes are within normal and expected manufacturing variation.”

    Analytics websites began noticing the uptick around midseason in 2015, and some pitchers, most prominently Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander, have been outspoken about what they saw as a clear change in the feel, look and/or behavior of the ball.

    “Major League Baseball wants to put on a show,” Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel said during last fall’s World Series, which saw a record 25 homers hit in a seven-game series. “Honestly, I think the balls are juiced.”

    Manfred commissioned the study in August 2017, bringing together physicists, mathematicians, engineers and statisticians, who examined Statcast data, tested and compared the properties of game-used balls from 2012-17, and inspected a Rawlings manufacturing site in Costa Rica where the balls are made. They also considered “changes in player behavior” — including the trend toward hitters swinging with an increased launch angle — as a potential factor, but ruled that out.

    Before this season, MLB mandated for the first time that all teams store their baseballs in air-conditioned rooms, and in a statement Thursday, Manfred said the league would study whether it needed to take the additional step of requiring the use of humidors at all parks beginning in 2019.

    “We know what the ‘what’ is,” Smith said. “The ‘why’ is a question I certainly want to get an answer to. But science doesn’t always work on a time frame that’s compatible with the popular interest.”
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  2. #2012
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    Re: The MLB Thread

    So, at Texas Rangers games, if you are on the way to an upper level, they chain the entrance to the upper levels while the National Anthem is playing. Everyone must crowd in as they come off the escalators and stand in a small area at attention until the anthem is over.

  3. #2013

    Re: The MLB Thread

    You can't play not to lose. The Rockies just found that out.

    What an exciting game.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  4. #2014

    Re: The MLB Thread

    The Brodie Van Wagenen hire: Rival agents, Mets employees and baseball executives give their thoughts on unconventional move
    OCT 31, 2018 | 4:25 PM

    Brodie Van Wagenen called it “Day One” on the job. Tuesday, the Mets’ controversial hire for GM set a tone and expectations. He hit all the high notes about winning right away and building an organization that can sustain that success long term.

    Van Wagenen, the former high-profile player agent, tried to put aside concerns about conflicts of interest. He said he had divested himself of his former agency, pointedly saying he is financially separated from his clients and agency. Team COO Jeff Wilpon stepped in and said adamantly that they put into Van Wagenen’s contract that he will have to recuse himself from the negotiations with his former clients.

    Van Wagenen set the stage for his regime Tuesday, but Wednesday morning, the reactions to his first day were mixed.

    I spoke to two rival agents, two Mets baseball employees and two rival baseball executives about their impressions of Van Wagenen the GM. Each seemed open to the ideas he threw out there, but wanted to see how he would carry them out.

    An agent who has dealt with the Mets recently - and has free agents available this winter - said he doesn’t see how the Mets could address all the possible conflicts of interest Van Wagenen faces.

    “So, the two biggest negotiations that the Mets will have to make for their future are (Jacob) deGrom and (Noah Syndergaard) and their new GM can’t be a part of that? That’s just, umm, weird,” said one agent. “I guess I don’t understand how he can be kept out of it really. Sure, he may not be at the table, but I can’t believe they won’t use his knowledge for some kind of leverage.

    “It will be interesting.”

    Another agent who has a few players in the organization said he is hopeful that it will work out for Van Wagenen and the Mets, mostly because his clients will be affected.

    “I have always liked Brodie. I have no problem with him taking the job, I wish him luck,” the second agent said. “I think it’s not going to be easy. There will be guys who will have a hard time working with him maybe at first, but I’ve got to for my clients’ sake.

    “We’ll see how it goes.”

    Van Wagenen said Tuesday he would work to foster relationships with agents who may be concerned about the situation.

    The Mets brought in most of their in-house staff Tuesday to fill out the seats for the press conference they broadcast on the team's network. Several of the baseball operations employees were watching carefully for clues about their future.

    “It all sounds good,” said one employee who was there Tuesday. “He said a lot of things that you want to hear about winning and investing and building around the right people. I think if he can do that, it will be great, but again, saying it and doing it are two different things.”

    The other baseball operations employee was not in the audience on Tuesday, but watched on SNY. A veteran of several organizations, he said he had very little reactions to the bold promises.

    “I’ve seen a lot of GMs come in with big promises and a lot leave. I don’t get too worked up about what they say on the first day,” the second employee said. “I’ll wait and see if how that actually changes things.”

    Both of the baseball executives I spoke to were curious about the reaction to Van Wagenen’s hiring. Neither watched the press conference, but both read about it.

    “I wish him luck,” said an American League executive. “I’ve worked with him in the past. He’s been good to deal with, I don’t imagine that would change much. He seems to have a good relationship with (Jeff) Wilpon, it will be interesting to see if that makes the job a little easier.”

    The other executive, who is in the National League, said talk of change is always big at the beginning of a new regime.

    “It’s what you would expect him to say, but until I see them actually change, I don’t know how different it will be,” the NL executive said. “I think ownership there has been heavily involved in the past, I don’t think that is going to change.

    “I think he has a big challenge ahead of him to actually make changes.”
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

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