There has been no shortage of excitement in this year’s MLB playoffs, but something seems a bit off. It appears that the ball just is not jumping off the bat the way it did during the regular season, and our eyes just might not be playing tricks on us. On Thursday, the media published several pieces investigating into this phenomenon.
Has the playoff baseball been de-juiced?
While playoff baseball has only just started advancing to the League Championship Series, already something has felt amiss as home run frequency has plummeted precipitously. Fortunately, there are very smart people who are good with numbers out there ready to solve this problem with spreadsheets filled with data sets.
Air resistance in the playoffs has shot up to the highest level since 2016, causing fewer homers. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the postseason baseball is totally different than the one used in the regular season. https://t.co/U4NBMd05k9 pic.twitter.com/bdIl09blQF— Rob Arthur (@No_Little_Plans) October 10, 2019
Rob Arthur published an article for Baseball Prospectus that takes a look at air resistance as a measure of the ball’s “juiciness”. By measuring the decrease in velocity from the release point to when it crosses the plate using data from Major League Baseball’s pitch tracking system, the author is able to ascertain how much drag is being created by the ball, which has since been confirmed by a commission of scientists and statisticians. His conclusion for the 2019 postseason: the difference in the drag coefficient from week-to-week has changed more than at any point in the season, by a factor of three. The graph posted above illustrates how drastic this difference is.
BREAKING: MLB issues statement on baseballs used in postseason. “Balls that are used in the Postseason are pulled from the same batches as balls used in the regular season.... only difference is the stamp placed on the ball.” Additional comments: pic.twitter.com/SX9NqfykiY— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) October 10, 2019
MLB officials have denied that there have been any substantial changes between the regular season and the playoff baseball. However, the evidence and the eye test says otherwise, though it comes as no surprise that the league’s front office is mostly mum on the subject. Regardless of whether there is any negligence involved, hopefully MLB can get this whole “juiced” ball ordeal under control moving forward into the future.
More managerial mayhem
The axe has fallen again for another MLB manager, this time it is the Philadelphia Phillies’ skipper Gabe Kapler who was given his walking papers on Thursday. Kapler joins seven other managers in the unemployment line as teams who missed out on the postseason look to start retooling for next year.
The Phillies have fired Gabe Kapler, a source confirms @JSalisburyNBCS report. After 10 days of deliberation, it’s over. Major questions about chain of command in the front office will persist with a new manager search.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) October 10, 2019
In related news, Miami Marlins third base coach Fredi Gonzalez announced that he will not return to the team and will instead “explore other options”. He is not the only coach to depart from the Marlins’ dugout after bench coach Tim Wallach left, as well as reports that neither catching coach Brian Schneider nor bullpen coach Dean Treanor will return for the 2020 season.
Bless You Boys’ own Ashley MacLennan takes a look at the bizarre conspiracy theory that the Tampa Bay Rays was paying people to attend Tuesday night’s game against the Houston Astros under the guise of home team fans. Not only is this suggestion patently ridiculous, but your humble linksmith was at the game in person and saw no evidence of such shenanigans.
Team USA rosters released
The rosters for Team USA Premier12 have been released, and not a single Tigers prospect is among the players selected. The list includes some familiar names such as Jo Adell and Andrew Vaughn, as well as some repeat performers such as Erik Kratz. The team will train towards the end of October before traveling to Mexico for the opening round of the tournament.
Isaac Paredes’ home run
Derek Hill also homered Thursday evening in Arizona Fall League play.
Glorious Tigers history
- What can the Detroit Tigers learn from this year’s postseason teams? Anthony Fenech takes a look at three important takeaways from the clubs participating in this year’s playoffs.
- Tigers arbitration estimates: Who will be back and how much will they make? Evan Woodbery sorts through the numbers and gives some educated guesses on what the Tigers may do.
- Ron Gardenhire? More like Gardenfire, amirite? At least, that is the take of one Bless You Boys community member in this well-presented FanPost.
- Jose Azocar is preaching patience at plate during AFL this season. After an award-winning season for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves, his performance out west has been a bit more modest.
- Where’s Whitaker? Eight theories on a Hall of Fame snub — an article from 2017 that dissected the reasons why such a deserving player got stonewalled.
A touching moment
That Max Scherzer/Aníbal Sánchez hug is EVERYTHING.— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 10, 2019
Teammates on the Tigers, teammates again this year for the 1st time since 2014.
How can you not LOVE baseball???
It's the absolute best. pic.twitter.com/eoJuAfs91W
Around the horn
Dan Szymborski at FanGraphs gives his preview of the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals matchup, as well as an assessment of Mike Trout and others who failed to make the playoffs. This year’s super two cutoff is abnormally low. “The plus is what you play for”: How the Nationals stunned the Dodgers to claim their first trip to the NLCS. Machine learning our way to the Gold Glove award. How Gerrit Cole went from so-so to unhittable. “That Was a Fair Ball, by the Way”: A Tale of Twins Tragedy. Baseball aerodynamics: a video entry for the American Physical Society Gallery of Fluid Motion for 2019.