Thread: MLB News

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Halfway through June, it would seem just  the threat of cracking down on the use of sticky stuff has made a remarkable difference. 

Month by month rate stats:


While it's too early to say for sure --  the warming weather could be a factor, the ever-changing baseball could be another -- it will be very interesting to see what happens when the threat of a crackdown becomes the reality.

Alex Patton Alex

After 60 games for most teams, here's Robert Arthur summing up what was a full season last year, viewed through the prism of Statcast:

... Here’s the result of this model: a map of the field, based on the landing position of each batted ball, colored by whether the ball is easier or harder to field in that area. More purple cells indicate that a batted ball to that area is more likely to be an out in 2021 than in 2016. More yellow/orange areas indicate the converse.

The most violet areas are all in the infield, which fits with our knowledge of shifts depressing BABIP. Three areas in particular stand out. From left to right: the normal positioning of the third baseman, which has dropped back 10 feet since 2015; the area around shortstop to the left of second, where shifted hitters find a wealth of defenders; and third, right up the middle, a formerly surefire place to get a hit that has become unproductive.

The outfield, also, is a sea of purple, suggesting that defensive positioning there has improved fielding. But the area between the infield and outfield highlights a rare section of greater offensive production. To see this better, here’s a one-dimensional representation of the chart above, with distance from home on the x-axis and change in out probability on the y axis.

The reason teams may be OK with trading some BABIP on texas leaguers for reduced production further out is that there’s much more offensive value on batted balls deeper in the outfield. In total, batted balls in the 275-foot-plus area are about 60 percent more likely to be doubles, three times more likely to be triples, and five times more likely to fall for sacrifice flies than those nearer in (175-275 feet). What teams have done is essentially take away the extra base hit, at the cost of allowing slightly more singles. (The other reason the tradeoff works is that there are just more batted balls further out: about 24 percent of batted balls travel 275 feet or more, compared to 19 percent from 175-275.)

... As BABIP creeps ever lower, it’s clear that the same kinds of hits are not yielding the same offensive value as they used to. Baseball is grappling with the confluence of multiple analytics-driven trends, from an explosion in sabermetrically-optimized sticky stuff to a defensive positioning revolution to an increasingly all-or-nothing hitting philosophy, all of which combined threaten to extinguish the flickering candle of offense that hitters still present.

Alex Patton Alex
Jun 8

When I was a kid my dad, a minor league pitcher in the Boston Braves org, insisted we sit behind home plate when we went to a game. In the early 60s you could buy a few tickets behind home plate at Yankee Stadium on game day on a young teacher's salary. Though the games we saw at Shea, when Tug McGraw ended Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal's unbeaten streaks against the Amazin's, we were on the mezzanine level behind third base. 

Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
May 27

There's one thing that Russell Carleton doesn't talk about in his article at Baseball Prospectus apportioning the blame for all the strikeouts.

Ken Rosenthal and Brittany Giroli at The Athletic:

Riding the bus back to the team hotel after a recent game, members of a National League club passed around the ball from a rookie’s first hit. The players were stunned by how sticky the ball was — how hours after the ball was taken out of play, they were still picking glue strands off the rawhide...

The problem remains rampant even in a season when Major League Baseball says it is taking additional steps to enforce rules prohibiting such conduct, including examining balls from every pitcher...

“It’s pretty frustrating picking up a foul ball and seeing it covered in sticky stuff,” Marlins outfielder Adam Duvall said. “At the end of the day, you would like to know that you are on a level playing field with your opponent. That doesn’t seem to be the case at times.”

Said the NL pitcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, “It’s the same thing as (Sammy) Sosa and (Mark) McGwire bopping all those home runs. Everyone knew, at least everyone on the inside, knew what they were doing. And then you have guys who are like, ‘I better do something or I won’t have a job.’ And then you have guys who are on the fence like, ‘Will I sell my soul for ‘X’ amount of money?’ And a lot of them are going to say yes...

“Most players, if you go into a clubhouse and you see a pitcher putting stuff on his glove, the hitters give him a hard time but that’s it,” another AL pitcher said. “They don’t like it but they won’t stop it. They know everyone is doing it and they want to win. What good is only stopping your guy from cheating? Makes no sense.”

Since the start of the Statcast era in 2015, the percentage of fastballs thrown with spin rates over 2400 RPM has nearly doubled, from 18 percent to 35 percent. The NL pitcher, like others before him, said it is impossible to achieve such dramatic increases in spin rate naturally. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer and White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino are among those who said the substances also help enhance movement on breaking balls.

“They are using stuff, I think it is very obvious,” said Palmer, a member of the Orioles broadcast team. “It’s blatant even if you can’t see them going to their forearm or anything every second. I hit 38 guys in (3,948) innings and now people are saying you need it for grip? It’s an excuse, we all know that. They are using it to be better.

“All of a sudden, you can take any pitcher and increase his spin rates. We have to look at why that’s happening, if (league officials) want to change it.  Do they want to change it? Or does everyone just like no-hitters?”

Alex Patton Alex
May 26

Good article by Russel Carleton about the state of the game posted today at BP. He deftly describes why the flood of Ks is such a bummer.

If you watch the game from behind home plate and know the language of the batter-pitcher battle, a strikeout is often a deep and tempestuous struggle with its own subplots. It’s a marvel of a player who is deeply skilled in evasively throwing a ball matching wits with someone who has elite abilities in hitting that ball. The problem is that most of the seats aren’t right behind home plate. They’re 400 feet away from home plate where it’s not easy to see all of that. It’s much easier to see what the players are doing when they are running and leaping and the ball is being thrown all over the field. 

Maybe the article is in the free area. If it's not, I'll post more of it here.

Alex Patton Alex
May 26

A few notes about the Padres :-)

Last night the Padres became the first team to win a game
despite ...

-being on the road

-facing a team with a .700+ win pct (min. 20 games)

-trailing by 6+ runs

-in 7th inning or later

... since the Giants did so against the 50-21 Cubs at
Wrigley on July 9, 1918.


... and ...

The run of top starting pitchers the Padres faced over the past 10 days was difficult to believe. The seven starters they faced in that span have a 2.16 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in the 21 combined starts they have made against teams other than the Padres. In those 21 games, they have allowed a combined .166 batting average.

Against the Padres, those pitchers had a collective ERA of 1.78, a collective WHIP of 0.81 and allowed the Padres a .177 batting average.

Howard Lynch LynchMob
Apr 26

Get ready for a few transactions today from the Dodgers and Padres. Dodgers use 7 pitchers, Padres 9 plus Cronenworth. (Musgrove played LF).

Probably see a Graterol activation since he is on their Taxi Squad right now (not that either team is far from their Alternate Site players). 

Kent Ostby Seadogs
Apr 17

The death of batting average doesn't seem to distribute evenly ... in '68 when the league hit .237ish, wasn't the top guy .300ish?  Well the top guys today are .350+!  There's still 16 hitters at .350+!  Acuna + Trout + Soto aren't going to end the year near .300 ...

Howard Lynch LynchMob
Apr 17