Last season, MLB decided to crack down on players who use foreign substances on baseballs to gain extra grip or further improve their ability to turn and manipulate it.
Most pitchers weren’t happy with the mid-season decision to change what so many believed was permissible. However, the use of banned substances gave pitchers an advantage in gaining speed with better grip and more movement, which had an impact on offensive statistics.
Pitcher still want some kind of substance on the baseballs because they have a slick feel when they’re brand new, so MLB started testing pre-pinned baseballs in triple-A games.
MLB has continued its testing in the Arizona Fall League, playing with balls that have already had a substance applied to them for the second half of the season, according to Baseball America’s Josh Norris:
Prior to the start of the Arizona Fall League, players were informed through Zoom that the baseballs they were using would be different between the first and second halves of the season. For the first three weeks they used the standard minor league regular season baseballs, rubbed with the same mud as usual. With the first half in the books, the league has switched to baseball, which is already coated with sticky substances.
When the league began enforcing its rule against the use of foreign substances in baseball, the offensive was at an all-time low that the MLB wanted to change to keep the sport entertaining and gain popularity.
Pitchers said the quick move could result in more injuries as they had to change ball stance and wanted MLB to wait until after the season. Tampa Bay Rays ace Tyler Glasnow, who was one of the noisiest players on the change, suffered a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and blamed MLB for his injury.
It is important for MLB to find a way to keep pitchers happy and healthy without capping offensive numbers.
MLB may have new baseball for 2022
MLB’s baseballs with sticky substances applied to them could be ready for next season.
Nippon Professional Baseball and the KBO League already have a league-approved substance and use balls that are pre-coated with the substance.
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