Rob Arthur, Meredith Wills, Bradford William Davis discussed on Effectively Wild: A FanGraphs Baseball Podcast


Like this people will enjoy the game more, we are trying to bridge the gap between that reality, the reality that we exist in now and the one that we would like to see. And that is a very straightforward and transparent conversation. Now we can have a debate about whether the mechanisms and levers they're trying to pull in order to achieve what they say they want will actually work. And if they're the right levers and if they might sort of get in each other's way and go up the gears behind the scenes, but it is at least a straightforward conversation in terms of the goals that they have. And then there's all this nonsense with the most important piece of equipment on the field, so it's just a very weird situation because I think that it might be past the point where we can just take it on its Facebook, perhaps the comms approach should just be here's what we're trying to do and here's the steps we took to do it. And then we should just see if only to try something new. I will say that if we use that somewhat arbitrary starting point of May 14th, the offensive environment has been pretty decent since then, OPS is up almost 40 points league wide the league has hit two 48 three 15 four O 6. The strikeout rate is 21.7%, which is down a bit, like it hasn't been that bad lately, you know, after the doom and gloom to start the season. So I don't know how much of that is the ball, the weather warming, and just maybe the end of a hangover coming from compressed spring training. That's another factor that complicates all of this. So I'm glad that we have this very granular public oversight. And we have so many watchdogs and we've been watch dogs of a sort, but there are people like rob Arthur and Meredith wills and many others who have really tracked this stuff closely and I think that's good because we know that MLB is not going to come right out and tell us these things and you have Bradford William Davis, who is chasing down the story and getting MLP on the record last year about the two balls and everything. That is great. I do think that maybe we've just gotten so deep into just looking at the behavior of the ball on a weekly or daily level that sometimes it's almost like we're in too deep like I almost want to like pump the brakes a bit just because we have these tools available to us that we never used to have. We have this great precision where we can assess the drag of the bow with statcast data and we can look at exit velocities and trajectories and fly ball rated embedded ball data and all sorts of information that we didn't used to have. And so we can't really compare to past eras and say, well this is how it worked then and here's how it worked now because we just don't have that level of information for earlier eras. So we're paying such close attention to this and looking at it on such a almost microscopic level that maybe we can just almost be like buffeted one way or another where we draw conclusions based on a fairly small sample. I don't know, it's tough because there have been cases where it seems like there's really did change mid season or from regular season to postseason and so I'm glad that people are keeping an eye on this but I haven't written about it this year almost because I feel like it's a Groundhog Day sort of situation where it's just like, oh, the ball is dead up the bottle slightly again you know sometimes within the same season. So I guess I would just sound some note of caution just because there's so many factors at play here and as we've learned over the last several seasons like little teeny tiny changes seemingly can have pretty big impacts and so when you're talking about weather and you're talking about humanoids and you're talking about a strange spring training and different numbers of players and pitchers permitted on the active roster and sticky stuff being taken away. I mean they're just so many things that are happening at the same time that it's hard to have a real controlled experiment, which I guess is why we need lab league. I was thinking we need lab leads. 'cause Evan trillick just for the athletic about how MLB has been testing sticky stuff in double-A and seemingly it has not gone well or at least pitchers are not happy about it. They've been developing multiple substances to companies have provided chemical mixtures that are intended to provide some tackiness, some grip without spin enhancing effects and thus far it seems like the returns are not great, at least according to the players that Evan talked to and quotes in this piece, people did not like how it worked and how it felt and it seemed like it wore off quickly and now at least for a while they're back to just rubbing the balls with mud the old way and pitchers seem pretty happy about that. So they were planning to test a different type of substance and they might still later this season, but it seems like they have a high bar for actually implementing this in the majors, which is good, but again, double-A pretty high level of baseball and it seems to have screwed some pictures up because the walk rate climbed pretty significantly in the leagues where they've been testing these new sticky substances and did not rise in other leagues where they weren't and the walk rates in those leagues were the highest they had been in at least 16 years like going back to when the records were easily accessible, I guess. So it seems like there were some unanticipated and undesirable effects there, which again, we need lap leak and you need to populate it with players who are good enough and have pitched to the high enough level that it might tell you something about what real professional and major league pitchers would save. But to not mess with prospects careers would be nice too..

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