MLB Study Determined Sticky Substances Don’t Improve Safety
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Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

As MLB’s crackdown on the use of foreign substances is poised to begin Monday, the league also announced the results of their investigation into the effects of pitchers using sticky substances on baseballs.

MLB’s research found that pitchers were gaining a significant competitive advantage by using banned substances and not just gaining extra grip for their control of the baseball.

The use of foreign substances significantly increases spin rates and movement of a baseball, which results in less action on the field because hitters have a harder time making contact.

This is said to have contributed to a high-strikeout style of pitching where the pitchers sacrifice control for movement and velocity, and in particular with the use of elevated fastballs.

Because of this style of pitching, there is no correlation to hitter safety and the use of sticky substances as the hit-by-pitch rate through May 31 is the highest of the past 100 years.

“After an extensive process of repeated warnings without effect, gathering information from current and former players and others across the sport, two months of comprehensive data collection, listening to our fans and thoughtful deliberation, I have determined that new enforcement of foreign substances is needed to level the playing field,” commissioner Robert Manfred said in a statement.

“I understand there’s a history of foreign substances being used on the ball, but what we are seeing today is objectively far different, with much tackier substances being used more frequently than ever before.

“It has become clear that the use of foreign substance has generally morphed from trying to get a better grip on the ball into something else – an unfair competitive advantage that is creating a lack of action and an uneven playing field.

“This is not about any individual player or Club, or placing blame, it is about a collective shift that has changed the game and needs to be addressed. We have a responsibility to our fans and the generational talent competing on the field to eliminate these substances and improve the game.”

MLB stated their focus is to create a consistent enforcement system that applies to all clubs and players without exception due to the competitive advantage of some pitchers using foreign substances. The new enforcement guidelines will go into effect on Monday.

“We have learned through our research that the more traditional substances can be used for competitive advantage just like the more modern substances, and it is not practical for umpires to differentiate on the field,” MLB’s senior vice president of on-field operations Michael Hill said. “The new guidance issued today will put everyone on a level playing field.”

Players around the league, most notably Trevor Bauer, have been calling for MLB to create a fair playing field dating back to 2018. As more and more players began complaining to the league about it — and while offense is at an all-time low — MLB decided to step in.

“As part of our information gathering effort, we have solicited feedback from players, coaches and front office personnel around the game,” MLB senior vice president of on-field operations Raul Ibañez said.

“All of us involved in the game care deeply about providing a level and safe playing field for the players.”

Injury concerns with MLB’s ruling

There are worries that a midseason change could cause an uptick in injuries, which Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has raised on multiple occasions.

“Certain guys are used to a different feeling of the baseball. Anytime you change the consistency of a baseball at any point in time, it changes the feel and stress of an arm,” Roberts said.

“Again, I’m no scientist. Like I’ve said many times before, things that are in place in the middle of a season are an adjustment.”

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow believes the change to MLB’s rules midseason contributed to his recent UCL tear.

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