MLB Has Made No Changes To The Baseball And Doesnt Plan To For 2020 – Forbes

Aaron Judge has been hitting the ball out of the ballpark solidly in 2020. The ball, itself, which ... [+] has been under close scrutiny, has not been changed as part of recommendations by the league's committee studying the ball. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Before baseball fans were engrossed in whether there would even be a season, COVID-19 test results, and debates about 7-inning doubleheaders and other odds rules, one of the biggest stories heading into the season centered on whether the ball was juiced in Major League Baseball. Expect that story to continue in 2020.

Over the past two years, several reports have looked at the ball, including one from Dr. Meredith Willis, an astrophysics Ph.D., who examined the physical properties of the ball, Rob Arthur of Baseball Prospectus who examined Statcast data, as well as FiveThirtyEight x-raying balls to get to the bottom of it. Their consensus was that there were imperfections to the ball that decreased or increased the drag on the ball.

The leagues committee said that For 2016-2017, the increase in home runs is primarily due to an increase in carry. For 2017-2018, the change in home runs is due to two opposing aspects: a change in launch conditions, which would have increased the number of home runs; and a decrease in carry, which would have decreased the number of home runs. The combined effect was a decrease in home runs. They added that For 2018-2019, approximately 60% of the home run increase was due to an increase in carry and 40% to a change in launch conditions. As noted above, only 35% of the increase in home run rate attributable to greater carry is due to a change in the seam


I interviewed MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in September of last year in which he said, . I do think that we need to see if we can make some changes that gives us a more predictable, consistent performance from the baseball.

At the time, Manfred said that the league had pulled together a committee of their own scientists to examine the ball, and at the baseball winter meetings in December, those findings concluded that there were, indeed, properties of the ball that were creating inconsistency and made several recommendations to address the matter. In January, league sources indicated to me that not just some, but all the recommendations, would be adopted. For 2020, they will not be.

Then Gary Sheffield, Jr. tweeted the following, which begged the question: have any changes been made to the ball in the wake of the mountain of analysis on the ball?

According to senior league sources that wished to not speak on the record, there have been no changes to the production process for the 2020 season. The ball in 2020 is consistent with the production processes of 2019, which as the leagues report showed is inconsistent.The league has been looking at a variety of recommendations from the report last year, but according to the sources, the pandemic has slowed the ability to identify and adopt any changes to the production process.

As to what the leagues committee recommended to address the ball, they made several. They recommended that Rawlings, who MLB has an ownership stake in and manufactures all the balls for the league, should develop a system to track the dates on which balls are manufactured and shipped to clubs. Clubs should log which batches of baseballs are used in which games or homestands. To assist in better understanding weather-related properties to how the ball is affected by drag and other properties affecting the performance of the ball during games, MLB should install atmospheric tracking systems at field level in all 30 parks, including temperature, pressure, relative humidity, and wind conditions. In a presentation to the media last month touting advances as part of the leagues Statcast 2.0, a slide was shown indicating wind swirling in the ballpark. But this was derived from AccuWeather and does not follow the committee recommendations of its own weather-related tracking.

One of the bigger recommendations was that the league should codify the current procedures used to monitor the drag, whether in the laboratory or with in-game data, sampling baseballs

manufactured throughout the production cycle and that repeated sampling of the ball to monitor drag coefficients should take place to provide a large sample size of data from which to work from.

Finally, a recommendation to install humidors in all 30 parks to reduce the variability in storage conditions across the league should be employed.

For now, fans, analysts, and media will continue to ponder in the wildest of seasons whether it is any wilder due to the properties of the single-most-important aspect to the integrity of the game: the baseball, itself. Whether changes occur for 2021 is not yet known.

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MLB Has Made No Changes To The Baseball And Doesnt Plan To For 2020 - Forbes

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