Major League Baseball enforced a sticky stuff ban last month and probably expected a massive jump in offensive numbers. Well, surprise! Hitters are still having a difficult time putting the ball into play because — wait for it — pitchers are still throwing 100 miles an hour.
Players were asked about the differences after the ban, and even they’re saying it hasn’t changed much.
“It’s a little confusing because they stopped it ,and the pitchers are still really good,” Cubs star Kris Bryant said. “They’re still really good pitchers.”
He did admit that breaking balls aren’t moving quite as much, but is it possible that won’t help? I think it’s fair to say less predictable breaking ball movement could be counter-productive to the success of hitters. Tough to predict where a pitch is breaking if the pitcher doesn’t even know.
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was asked about the differences he’s seeing behind the plate as well as at the dish.
“Maybe a little less bite on some curveballs? I guess what I’m really trying to say is Major League Baseball is really hard and these guys are good. A lot more sliders are backing up and not having the same shape. Earlier in the season, there were a lot of good sliders that were tight nearly every time.”
Velocity is still the wild card
The main reason hitting has become so difficult is because of pitch speeds. With that peak in velocity comes diminishing contact rates, lower batting averages, and a difficult viewing experience overall. It’s total buns to watch.
Worth noting that hitters hit .232 with a .389 slugging percentage in the month of April, before the ban was put in place, and have hit .247 with a .412 slugging percentage ever since. That’s a decent kick up in action on the field and should be applauded. For once, bravo to the commissioner.
I’ve always argued that other factors besides velocity and spin rate are involved in these offensive slumps, including an obsession with the shift. Maybe Major League Baseball has to address that rather than the ban? Sure, players should be able to go the other way, or at least try. But no players in any era have been asked to do so.
Present-day baseball is really difficult, and we need to respect it as such. At least they’re trying to make adjustments.