How many MLB pitchers are cheating? Lots of them.

The Gray Eagle

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Eno Sarris in the Athletic:
https://theathletic.com/2183861/2020/11/09/pitchers-pine-tar-grip-mlb-time-to-legalize/?source=freedailyemail
Your favorite pitcher is probably cheating.

A large majority of big league pitchers right now are using some sort of extra-grip substance to impart more spin — and therefore more movement — on the ball. That’s the consensus of nearly 20 major league hitters, pitchers and pitching coaches who spoke to The Athletic in the last month. The median answer was more than three-quarters of the league, but five respondents thought the portion was much closer to 100 percent.

“Almost everyone is using something,” said a coach with experience in several major league organizations.

“My guess on total MLB players using some sort of grip enhancement … 99.9 percent,” said another coach who has worked with multiple major leaguers.

Those who are loading up with a “grip enhancement” on the mound are violating Official Baseball Rule 6.02, which states that the pitcher may not “apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball” or “have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance” or “attach anything to his hand, any finger, or either wrist.”
How much of an advantage is it? Some claim it is a huge help.

The advantages of using grip substances are unmistakable.
“It’s better than steroids,” said one player development executive about the benefits, which have been demonstrated by major league pitchers in real time before. Trevor Bauer, after making some comments about how a pitcher could add spin rate and throwing some shade at Astros pitchers, ended up doing what can only be described as a public experiment when it appears he added spin rate to his fastball for one inning in 2018, when he was with Cleveland.

Going from nothing on the ball to applying Pelican Grip added more than 300 rpm to this pitcher’s fastball and more than three inches of extra movement. That’s enough to move from 39th on the fastball spin leaderboard (Sam Selman with 2476 rpm) to first (Bauer, with 2776 rpm). See how much each substance changed the spin and movement on the same pitcher’s fastball.
So should we start a witch hunt to eradicate and ban these cheaters? Instead, MLB should probably just listen to Peter Tosh and Legalize It.
But, rather than try to eradicate such a widespread practice, it might make more sense for Major League Baseball to legalize it. Because of ongoing innovation in the grip substance marketplace, the difficulty of enforcement, the perils of selective enforcement and the flaws in alternative solutions, the simplest way out of this current situation may be to find some sort of substance that satisfies the pitcher’s needs and hopefully ends the race to develop better grip...

....Rawlings and the league are working on a tacky ball, and it was tested in the Atlantic League last year, but one complaint from a hitter seems ominous for a league that has struggled with ball changes over the last five years.

“The big difference for me was that they felt a little bit softer than the other ball,” former Reds catcher Ramon Cabrera told Newsday last year. “… I really liked it. But when we’re hitting, the balls don’t jump like the regular ones. So, we hit a couple line drives and a couple balls really hard, and the balls didn’t go anywhere.”

Does baseball want to risk taking the carry out of the ball at a time when strikeout rate also has risen to an all-time high? The reward would be that strikeouts and home runs both go down, and perhaps more balls are put in play — but the risk is that only the home run rate comes down, and viewers are rewarded with a game that is reduced to strikeouts and strikeouts alone.
I would love it if they could come up with a baseball that pitchers can grip effectively that reduced home runs and led to more balls in play.

At first we might get the aforementioned "strikeouts and strikeouts alone" effect, but I think hitters would be forced to adjust by cutting down their swings and putting more balls in play.

I think baseball really needs to adjust their balls, so to speak. Seems like it's becoming a big issue that is impacting the quality of their product in several ways, but I haven't seen anything that says Manfred (or Clark) even understands that at all.
 
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santadevil

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So should we start a witch hunt to eradicate and ban these cheaters? Instead, MLB should probably just listen to Bob Marley and Legalize It.
I assume Manfred will take the worst route on this, have an "investigation", hand out some random suspensions, selectively enforce the rule going forward and piss off as many people as possible in the process. You know, SOP at this point
 

Tangled Up In Red

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Not much to add beyond being good friends with the Pelican Grip (Bat Wax) guy. He's a good dude.
He never intended his stuff (not sure if grip dip or bat stick) to be used this way, but hey, Bauer, thanks for the publicity. His 'The Stick' product is in about 15 or so MLB clubhouses, last I knew.

Back on topic, like back in the Bullfrog sunscreen days (Dice-K), I bet hitters are roughly even on giving up higher spin rates in exchange for better control (safety).
 

MuzzyField

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Jeremiah was the bullfrog.
Really, I think lots of guys used Bullfrog. Dice-K definitely used something on his forearms (could it have been hair spray/mousse/gel?).
He was a good friend of mine. How about you?

The photo of him rubbing his forearm is what I remember. Here a few old articles. I love the headline from Yahoo.
http://archive.boston.com/sports/blogs/thebuzz/2013/05/report_buchholz.htmlhttps://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/big-league-stew/clay-buchholz-era-1-60-spf-1-000-181816375.html
MLB... So much cheating, so many unwritten rules.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Oppo

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I can only assume HoF voters will omit every pitcher from this era on their ballots
 

mauf

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Not every violation of rules needs to be treated as an offense against the sanctity of the game.

I grew up in an era when getting caught scuffing the ball or using a corked bat was considered an embarrassment to the player rather than a grave offense against the game. Bearing your wife or girlfriend didn’t even rise to that level. But using cocaine was the worst thing a ball player could do, and surely would corrupt the nation’s youth.

Baseball has followed the rest of society in taking domestic violence more seriously, and in considering drug use not resulting in criminal charges or failure to perform job functions as a private matter. But I’m not sure we weren’t about right in the 1980s about the relative seriousness of doctoring bats and balls.

So I don’t think we need to either legalize scuffing the ball or crack down hard on those who break the rules. Advances in video technology will make it harder to get away with it, but I think there’s still a place in the game for gamesmanship. At any rate, I definitely don’t think it’s worth getting worked up about.
 

allmanbro

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I would love it if they could come up with a baseball that pitchers can grip effectively that reduced home runs and led to more balls in play.

At first we might get the aforementioned "strikeouts and strikeouts alone" effect, but I think hitters would be forced to adjust by cutting down their swings and putting more balls in play.

I think baseball really needs to adjust their balls, so to speak. Seems like it's becoming a big issue that is impacting the quality of their product in several ways, but I haven't seen anything that says Manfred (or Clark) even understands that at all.
I think this is the key issue - it's not about some violation of the integrity of the game, I just think the league should be trying to generate more balls in play, fewer Ks and fewer HRs. Maybe raise the seams on the ball, or scuff them more pregame (improve grip + increase drag), and start actually monitoring for grip substances without making it a witch hunt.

I suppose they could also approve a single substance that is less effective than some things pitchers are using, give pitchers an approved patch of it to put on their gloves, and monitor that.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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I’ve never really understood MLB’s halfway approach on this. The rosin bag is legal. It’s right there, on every mound. Why? If it’s legit and even desirable to let pitchers use rosin, but not quite “enough,” can’t we evaluate and agree on whatever is “enough” and legalize that substance instead? Use some data, make any desirable change, then strictly enforce it.

Edit: IOW, Allmanbro’s 2d paragraph above.
 

Tangled Up In Red

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Interestingly, and tangentially related to the dead ball thread. My buddy referenced above (Pelican Grip / Bat Wax) is now the official rosin bag supplier for MLB. I wonder if he developed a stickier/better powder...? I'll find out.

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