- The MLB is now cracking down on the use of foreign substances by pitchers to doctor the ball while in play, leading to mass adjustment across the league.
- Bettors are wondering if this change has any quantifiable effect on scoring league-wide in a season that was already breaking records for low batting average, batters hit-by-pitch, and strikeouts.
NEW YORK – The battle between the pitcher and the batter is an eternal struggle that millions tune in to watch each and every day during the baseball season.
Some people, like those of us at legal sportsbetting.com sometimes even wager their hard earned money on the outcome of this battle.
In 2021, the stipulations of the battle between pitcher and batter have become quite muddled in terms of what is and what is not allowed.
This has come to a head in recent weeks as a long-standing rule against foreign substances used by pitchers suddenly became enforced. Where pitchers had been gunking up the ball with sticky substances for years, they are now abruptly not allowed to do so in an effort to increase hitting numbers.
Hitting is historically down in 2021, with the overall batting average of all 30 teams hitting a low of .237 earlier this year and is now .239 after 2134 games. For reference, the lowest batting average in an MLB season was .237 in 1968.
This comes after the 2020 and 2019 seasons saw the highest rate of Home Runs hit per pitch in the history of game, coupled with records in scoring, hitting, and more.
The drop in hitting numbers this season can be easily attributed to one key factor: The baseball itself was altered prior to the season by Rawlings in an attempt to deaden its path and travel of flight by decreasing the weight of the ball by 1/10th of an ounce.
Naturally, this deadening of the ball had the desired effect of reducing hitting numbers across the league.
The MLB, instead of realizing their mistake by changing the balls, has decided to crack down on the use of sticky substances by pitchers in order to counteract this change. The sticky substances have been used and unpoliced by the league for years, meaning that pitchers have become very used to the added grip when throwing the ball.
Gerrit Cole was a highly suspected user of said substances, and even balked at answering direct questions to whether or not he uses Spider Tack, a brand-name adhesive.
Quite something and eye-opening to watch the usually insightful and incredibly articulate Gerrit Cole talk in circles like a politician when asked point blank if he’s ever used Spider Tack, one of the sticky substances MLB is cracking down on pic.twitter.com/OBd1bWiE0S
— joon 이준엽 (@joonlee) June 8, 2021
Cole has won both of his starts since that comment, striking out 13 in 14 innings of work on the mound.
So, with all of this information, how do those who bet on baseball use this to their advantage?
Betting In A Batter’s World
Now that the advantage has gone back to the batter in this never-ending struggle, it would be natural for bettors to assume that slamming the over on games featuring pitchers with high spin rate would be the profitable trend.
After all, spin rate on pitchers like Julio Urias, Max Scherzer, the aforementioned Cole, and others has been recorded as down over the past week, albeit with a very small sample size.
But the truth is that this has yet to really affect the scoring total of baseball games around the league. The league batting average sits at .238, but over the last seven days (since the new rule has been enforced) the BA has only crept up to .240.
Slugging is up from .400 to .412, and OBP is up from .313 to .317.
While these are improvements, they are marginal at best.
It appears that it will take some time to see if the league’s best pitchers are able to handle this change without any significant drop off to performance or hits allowed.
In the meantime, bettors should keep looking for an edge that doesn’t involve what the pitcher might be hiding in his glove.
Jimmy began his journalistic journey as a stat recorder and PA announcer for his middle school baseball team. Full of experience across print, broadcast, and sports radio, he brings his knowledge and toolkit to the LegalSportsBetting team. You can find him watching sports, making parlays, and listening to music on any day ending in Y.