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Morning Mound Visit: sabermetrics news - 6/8/18

Lace thickness causing ball changes; home runs are down; May baseball trends; bring the DH to the NL

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MLB: Game Two-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletic | Dr. Meredith Wills: Major League Baseball released their official report on the juiced baseball, and The Athletic came to a conclusion as to why the ball is travelling longer distances: the laces are thicker. It was the only attribute with a statistically significant difference, and while Rawlings claims that laces were not a part of their official changes, it seems to be the case regardless. This not only leads to less drag, but also an increase in the blisters we’ve seen over the past few years.

FanGraphs | Jeff Sullivan: I just talked about how the ball and home runs changed, and now... we’re seeing another odd change: home runs have suddenly dropped off. Home runs per fly ball have sunk to 2016 levels; it’s not 2014 yet, but it went down a non-trivial amount that is even more odd considering the early going in the season was characterized by so much rain. We should have seen home run rates increase, but we’ve seen the opposite. Have they changed the ball again? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Baseball Prospectus | Rob Mains ($): Everyone is obsessed with April results, but May is definitely more predictive. In May we’ve seen home runs go down, as well as singles, and strikeouts are going way, way up. Overall we’re starting to see a decline in offense for the first time since it’s rise started nearly three years ago.

The Ringer | Ben Lindbergh: The best indicator for how good pitchers are getting is how well pitchers are hitting, and they just keep getting worse and worse. They’re down to a collective -23 wRC+, which is completely untenable for a professional player. Pitchers have gone to as bad as the worst hitting player, then a 0 wRC+, and they’re getting to the point where they’re as bad as a regular person hitting professional pitchers would have been in an earlier era. Tl;dr: bring the designated hitter to the National League.