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tonycpsu

2019 Juiced Ball Discussion

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Rob Arthur, Baseball Prospectus: Moonshot: The Baseball Is Juiced (Again)

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We’re only a week into the 2019 season, but the drag numbers so far are among the lowest recorded in the last calendar year. With apologies for gory math, the current 2019 season average drag coefficient (the red line) would be below the 95 percent credible interval (the shaded area) for about nine-tenths of the 2018 season. (I used a Bayesian Random Walk model implemented in INLA to calculate these credible intervals, averaging the drag numbers in each game and adjusting for park.)

There were only a handful of six-day stretches in 2018 that had drag numbers below what we’re seeing now, and most were in late June and early July. All of this means that 2019’s data so far is quite a bit different than what we saw through most of last year.

These drag coefficients factor out the effects of temperature and air density, so they aren’t a product of April cold. However, the numbers could be deceptive if the radars used to track pitches have changed from year to year. I consulted with some experts within baseball who were not aware of any specific modifications to the radar this year that could produce this pattern, but it’s an important caveat of which to be aware.

On the one hand, it’s only been six days, and we don’t quite have the statistical basis to say that these drag coefficients are unprecedented compared to 2018. On the other hand, we’ve witnessed about 5,000 fastballs so far this season, so it’s not as if our sample size is small. At least so far, the baseball has played like it’s much more aerodynamic than it was last year. In fact, the current drag coefficient is really only comparable to 2017, when the baseballs were more aerodynamic than they had been in at least a decade. [...]

It’s possible that this one-week drop in drag coefficient subsides and the baseball returns to its 2018 levels. On the other hand, it’s almost equally probable that the ball becomes even more slippery and flies ever farther. Either way, it’s clear that the baseball’s air resistance is something to keep an eye on for the remainder of the 2019 season.

 

If the pattern holds, and isn't due to some sort of measurement error or small sample issues, the fantasy implications are pretty profound.  Last year wasn't exactly a bad year for power, but it was significantly lighter than 2017.  If the drag coefficient really is down again, power could once again be easier to find, which means you need more bombsnacks to stay competiive, but also that you can find them from a wider variety of sources.

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Posted (edited)

As proactive smart fantasy managers, what are we doing about this? Anything yet or wait and see.

 

Do we target more pitchers/middle relievers with elite ratios and worry less about wins/K?

 

Do we devalue bats at all or focus on getting the top tier guys to separate from the pack (seems everyone is hitting)?

 

Do we trade bats for elite SP?

 

Or again wait and see for now....?

 

 

 

Edited by Members_Only_76

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Intuitively, I’m more inclined to roster SP with better GB and/or weak contact %.  Not sure how I feel about adjusting the hitting strategy, but it would seem the increase in power is going to be a boon for the LA revolutionaries. 

 

Tldr; need pitchers that keep the ball on the ground and/or strike people out, and need hitters who hit more fly balls. 

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Posted (edited)

It's definitely looking like the ball is more juiced than ever... if Tellez managed to hit the facing of upper deck at Fenway, and then these 500-level shots are happening the next night:

https://www.mlb.com/video/must-c-rays-hit-jaw-dropping-hrs?t=most-popular

 

We're also seeing guys going to dead center with regularity... and it's not even warm yet in half the stadiums.

Edited by Hockey_Baseball
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Posted (edited)

Can someone tell Freddie Freeman balls are juiced now and it’s okay to put balls over fences?

Edited by Cmilne23
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There's been a lot of talk about this and the overwhelming evidence points to the balls being more suited to hitters now. I don't think anyone really has a major problem with it. My question is, why won't the MLB just come out and say something like "Hey we are tweaking the balls a bit because we believe more offense will help baseball grow" or something along those lines? It seems like controversy is being created because of nothing. The other major sports all have done things to help the offense. Baseball might as well hop on the train. 

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15 minutes ago, Gohawks said:

I don't think anyone really has a major problem with it

Talked to any MLB pitchers lately? 😀

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, tonycpsu said:

Talked to any MLB pitchers lately? 😀

Or until they find out they need thicker netting in the 1st and 3rd base lines to protect the fans....or the stadium owners who never realized they would have to protect something 500ft away in a stadium.  Foul poles will have to be extended, pitchers will have to start wearing goalie masks.  Thicker cups for players. Only a matter of time before they will need netting in the outfield.  Aw, was trying to reply to the comment about nobody caring about juiced balls.

Edited by TheBoatmen
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50 minutes ago, TheBoatmen said:

Or until they find out they need thicker netting in the 1st and 3rd base lines to protect the fans....or the stadium owners who never realized they would have to protect something 500ft away in a stadium.  Foul poles will have to be extended, pitchers will have to start wearing goalie masks.  Thicker cups for players. Only a matter of time before they will need netting in the outfield.  Aw, was trying to reply to the comment about nobody caring about juiced balls.

A lot of the argument has to do with aerodynamics, which really wouldn't affect reaction time to the pitcher or for line shots into the stands. 

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1 hour ago, tonycpsu said:

Talked to any MLB pitchers lately? 😀

I mean from a fan's perspective. Obviously, pitchers don't like it. Same way defenders in the NFL hate the rule changes. However, you learn to adapt just like in the NFL. Hell, this year has the most walks per game in 20 years. Pitchers are trying to pitch away as much as possible. Pitches designed to force pop-ups may very well be HRs now. 

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On 4/10/2019 at 3:00 PM, Members_Only_76 said:

As proactive smart fantasy managers, what are we doing about this? Anything yet or wait and see.

 

Do we target more pitchers/middle relievers with elite ratios and worry less about wins/K?

 

Do we devalue bats at all or focus on getting the top tier guys to separate from the pack (seems everyone is hitting)?

 

Do we trade bats for elite SP?

 

Or again wait and see for now....?

 

 

 

I would guess it's probably best to wait and see before doing anything drastic but I have started to load up on RPs.

My league counts holds so I get rewarded with more than just ratio help, but Ive cut my roster down to just 5 SPs, all guys who I can count on to have a high K/9, and stocked the rest of my staff with the best RPs possible, regardless if they're closing games or not. For example just yesterday I traded away Mikolas, a low K/9 guy, along with a pretty good bat for Treinen. Looking back I wish I would have made RP a higher priority when drafting, but who knew pitching would be THIS bad.

That might not work in all leagues, but it's working out well so far in mine.

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Just heard on the Phils/Nats broadcast that AAA is using the same balls as MLB this year. HR numbers are way up in AAA this year. 

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2 minutes ago, Members_Only_76 said:

Just heard on the Phils/Nats broadcast that AAA is using the same balls as MLB this year. HR numbers are way up in AAA this year. 

 

heard this a few weeks ago. they started using the MLB balls and HRs have increased a lot. the balls are juiced. this is money making corporation. more HRs is good for the game.

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I guess juiced balls sound better than PEDs. (I hope the secret sauce really is in the ball)

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On 4/17/2019 at 7:54 PM, DFWSooner said:

I would guess it's probably best to wait and see before doing anything drastic but I have started to load up on RPs.

My league counts holds so I get rewarded with more than just ratio help, but Ive cut my roster down to just 5 SPs, all guys who I can count on to have a high K/9, and stocked the rest of my staff with the best RPs possible, regardless if they're closing games or not. For example just yesterday I traded away Mikolas, a low K/9 guy, along with a pretty good bat for Treinen. Looking back I wish I would have made RP a higher priority when drafting, but who knew pitching would be THIS bad.

That might not work in all leagues, but it's working out well so far in mine.

 

target elite pitchers and hitters. also players like for example Max Kepler type with promising breakout potential you can get for cheap. 

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1 minute ago, papasmurf said:

I guess juiced balls sound better than PEDs. (I hope the secret sauce really is in the ball)

 

changing the compression of a ball makes a big difference. its doesn't change the weight or anything. its undetectable.

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So what does this do for the goal of shortening game times? I mean, they're implementing a pitch clock, limiting mound visits, as well as making rp's face a set number of hitters before they can be relieved? And they change the ball so as to create more offense? ....lol wat?

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The juiced ball stinks.  It waters down the value of good players.  When guys like Derrick Deitrich & Tommy La Smella are on pace for 40+ homers there's a problem.  This season seems worse that the juiced ball year in 2017 when the likes of Logan Morrison socked 40+ bombs.   Going into the 2018 draft people thought certain players might have taken a step forward, or developed power, and were totally let down when the league returned to the old, non-juiced ball.  Enter 2019 and it's juice city.  What ball will they use next year?    It's not so much that homers are up, it's the extreme margin by which they are that stinks.  I don't know who's numbers are real, or aided by the ball being juiced. 

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17 hours ago, mlb2019 said:

 

heard this a few weeks ago. they started using the MLB balls and HRs have increased a lot. the balls are juiced. this is money making corporation. more HRs is good for the game.

 

I see a good bit of people say this and I strongly disagree.  More is not always better.  As home runs become more common, the less exciting they become.  There is a balance.

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15 minutes ago, dicka24 said:

The juiced ball stinks.  It waters down the value of good players.  When guys like Derrick Deitrich & Tommy La Smella are on pace for 40+ homers there's a problem.  This season seems worse that the juiced ball year in 2017 when the likes of Logan Morrison socked 40+ bombs.   Going into the 2018 draft people thought certain players might have taken a step forward, or developed power, and were totally let down when the league returned to the old, non-juiced ball.  Enter 2019 and it's juice city.  What ball will they use next year?    It's not so much that homers are up, it's the extreme margin by which they are that stinks.  I don't know who's numbers are real, or aided by the ball being juiced. 

 

YES!  I completely agree. We're at just about the halfway mark of the season and there are 54 players with 15+ home runs and therefore on pace to hit 30. 

Through June 20th, 2018, 27 players (exactly HALF) had 15 home runs.

It just makes the game seem so artificial.

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Well on the plus side makes digging for productive bats in the fantasy fa pool less challenging lol

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, sportsfreak2744 said:

 

YES!  I completely agree. We're at just about the halfway mark of the season and there are 54 players with 15+ home runs and therefore on pace to hit 30. 

Through June 20th, 2018, 27 players (exactly HALF) had 15 home runs.

It just makes the game seem so artificial.

 

Going a little further....

 

Through June 20th:

2018: 2,509 HR in 83,873 PA (1 HR per 33 PA)

2019: 3,046 HR in 85,669 PA (1 HR per 28 PA)

 

That's an 18.9% increase in HR per PA

Edited by sportsfreak2744
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28 minutes ago, sportsfreak2744 said:

There is a balance.

 

It's also really important to think of this not just the raw number of home runs that's changed, but also about the secondary effects.  Going from 2.30 to 2.72 home runs per game isn't *that* huge of a difference in absolute terms.  If you watched your team play 7 games in a week in 2016, you saw about 16 home runs.  This year, if you watch a week of games, you'll see about 19 homers.  That's not nothing, but it's not anything that "ruins the game" by itself.

But think about all the things that change when more balls are flying over the fence.  Suddenly hitters are changing their approach, particularly against the best pitchers.  Why try to serve a ball into the opposite field for a single with a 1/10 success rate when you can swing for the fences at a 1/25 success rate?  (Numbers made up, don't @ me.)  Ks go up, BBs go up, balls in play go down.  Suddenly It's a three true outcomes league, and the homer is by far the least common of those outcomes.

This post about the declining number of balls in play is a bit old, but shows the downward trend pretty well:

image.png.b4462480ad777ab3687d0dd35dd4ecb0.png

Since that post was made, the percent of balls in play per game have gone down even more, from ~69% in 2013 to to 64% so far this year.

Now, I'll give you that not all balls in play are exciting events.  Sac flies, grounders to short...  Nobody's going to miss a few percentage points of those a game.  But what about infield hits?  What about a single down the line that moves a runner from first to third with a close tag play at third base?  Take just one or two of those events out of a game and replace it with a walk or a strikeout and the product is devalued.

Obviously not all of this trend can be attributed to the juiced ball -- some of it is just pitchers throwing harder, bullpen usage trends, etc.  But the juiced ball changes the equation enough that it's bad for the viewing experience, not so much for die-hards like the folks who are going to be reading a post this long on a fantasy baseball forum, but for the next generation of fans who need to be courted to rescue MLB from the demographic apocalypse it's headed toward.  All the pace of play changes in the world can't make up for the fact that so many game events are lengthy at bats punctuated by a walk back to the dugout or a walk to first base.

The fact that MLB isn't taking this issue seriously (or, depending on your tin-foil-hattedness, is actively encouraging it) suggest that they're fine with a small spike in short-term interest at the expense of the longer term viability of the sport.

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3 minutes ago, tonycpsu said:

 

It's also really important to think of this not just the raw number of home runs that's changed, but also about the secondary effects.  Going from 2.30 to 2.72 home runs per game isn't *that* huge of a difference in absolute terms.  If you watched your team play 7 games in a week in 2016, you saw about 16 home runs.  This year, if you watch a week of games, you'll see about 19 homers.  That's not nothing, but it's not anything that "ruins the game" by itself.

But think about all the things that change when more balls are flying over the fence.  Suddenly hitters are changing their approach, particularly against the best pitchers.  Why try to serve a ball into the opposite field for a single with a 1/10 success rate when you can swing for the fences at a 1/25 success rate?  (Numbers made up, don't @ me.)  Ks go up, BBs go up, balls in play go down.  Suddenly It's a three true outcomes league, and the homer is by far the least common of those outcomes.

This post about the declining number of balls in play is a bit old, but shows the downward trend pretty well:

image.png.b4462480ad777ab3687d0dd35dd4ecb0.png

Since that post was made, the percent of balls in play per game have gone down even more, from ~69% in 2013 to to 64% so far this year.

Now, I'll give you that not all balls in play are exciting events.  Sac flies, grounders to short...  Nobody's going to miss a few percentage points of those a game.  But what about infield hits?  What about a single down the line that moves a runner from first to third with a close tag play at third base?  Take just one or two of those events out of a game and replace it with a walk or a strikeout and the product is devalued.

Obviously not all of this trend can be attributed to the juiced ball -- some of it is just pitchers throwing harder, bullpen usage trends, etc.  But the juiced ball changes the equation enough that it's bad for the viewing experience, not so much for die-hards like the folks who are going to be reading a post this long on a fantasy baseball forum, but for the next generation of fans who need to be courted to rescue MLB from the demographic apocalypse it's headed toward.  All the pace of play changes in the world can't make up for the fact that so many game events are lengthy at bats punctuated by a walk back to the dugout or a walk to first base.

The fact that MLB isn't taking this issue seriously (or, depending on your tin-foil-hattedness, is actively encouraging it) suggest that they're fine with a small spike in short-term interest at the expense of the longer term viability of the sport.

 

On a larger societal note, related to this "demographic apocalypse" where MLB is concerned about speeding up the game for millennials and Gen Z (age 7-22)...isn't speeding up the game to accomodate decreasing attention spans just feeding the problem?  There are certainly parts of the game that could become more efficient and quicker, but next year we are going to see LOOGYs lose their jobs because MLB has decided that it's youngest fans will lose interest if there are too many pitching changes. That doesn't sit right with me.

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