Jun 12, 2013, 9:24 AM EDT
Home runs and batting average have increased sharply in the NPB this season, and after months of denying that the ball had been altered in any way, Japanese baseball officials are admitting that they tinkered with it in order to “make the game more exciting” and increase offense:
Players and fans had repeatedly quizzed Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) bosses after seeing a 40 percent rise in the number of balls that were slugged out of the park so far this season.
In April NPB said the specifications of their ball — each of which bears the signature of its commissioner Ryozo Kato — “have not been changed”, a statement that was repeated several times since.
But on Tuesday NPB came clean, saying they had asked manufacturer Mizuno to “adjust” the ball to give it greater bounce off the bat and demanded the company keep quiet about the switch.
Altering baseballs is not unprecedented in baseball history, of course. In 1930 offense made the so-called Steroid Era look like 1982 or something. Half the teams scored 900 runs or more and the average hitter in the American League — just the AVERAGE ones — hit .303/.360/.448. That winter baseball deadened the balls a bit, with the AL altering the stitching and the NL doing both that and adding a cover to its balls. Offense went down significantly in 1931, more so for the NL.
1987 is widely suspected to be another year in which the ball was altered. Baseball has never admitted to doing anything, but the season was an offensive aberration and unlike other eras of changing offense it was an outlier, with the next and previous years looking pretty similar and no other explanation that makes a lick of sense.
I strongly suspect that the baseballs were altered again in the 1990s. There were multiple explanations for increased offense at that time, including double expansion, much smaller parks, smaller strike zones, different hitting approaches and, of course, performance enhancing drugs, but I’ve always thought that the baseball had something to do with it too. Not that anyone ever wants to blame anything other than steroids.
But I think this NPB story shows that it doesn’t take much for offense to increase significantly. Sometimes just a change in the ball. Which league officials are inclined to deny.
Aug 29, 2014, 8:47 AM EDT
A big housing unit for the Big Unit.
Aug 29, 2014, 7:35 AM EDT
And an ice cream sandwich — used for taunting purposes — was involved.
Aug 29, 2014, 6:58 AM EDT
Yet another protested game in a week full of protests. This one isn’t going anywhere, though.
Aug 28, 2014, 11:02 PM EDT
Herrera, who was acquired from the Pirates in the Marlon Byrd deal last August, was batting .340/.406/.560 with 10 homers and 48 RBI over 61 games in Double-A this season.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:21 PM EDT
Outman had a 3.28 ERA and 24/16 K/BB ratio over 24 2/3 innings with the Indians this season.
Aug 28, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT
Every time Alex Gordon steps to the plate at Kauffman Stadium these days, fans chant, “M-V-P, M-V-P,” which is fascinating on so many levels.
Aug 28, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT
Vic Black has emerged as an effective late-inning bridge for the Mets this season, but now he’s headed to the 15-day disabled list with a herniated disk in his neck.
Aug 28, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
The expectation is that Castillo will get some major league experience in September.
Aug 28, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT
Gomes suffered the concussion last Thursday when he was hit in the catcher’s mask by a deflected ball.
Aug 28, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
The struggling Wright hasn’t played since leaving Sunday’s game with neck spasms.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT
Nolan Reimold has been claimed off waivers for the second time in a month, going from the Orioles to the Blue Jays and now to the Diamondbacks.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
This is just sad.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
It’s five o’clock. Let’s end the work day with a big bunch of arguing, ok?
Aug 28, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT
There was no perfect game involved and in fact the 46 batters stretched over the course of eight appearances. Mark Buehrle held the previous record of 45 back in 2009.
Aug 28, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT
It’s not been a good week for Phillies brass.
Aug 28, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Soria made just six appearances for the Tigers after being acquired from the Rangers in July.
Aug 28, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Not many rookies in recent MLB history have done as much running as The Fastest Man In Baseball.
Aug 28, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Umpire to Perez: “You smell good, Salvy!” I am not making that up.
Aug 28, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
With a load of great hitting prospects and the dough to go get pitching, things may soon be looking up on the north side of Chicago
Aug 28, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Sorry. There’s no joke there. Just a cool picture. Including Vedder with a sweet 70s-80s Tigers road uni.
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