The Southern League of Minor League Baseball is starting the second half of the season using standard baseballs. Major League Baseball began an experiment to use pre-tacked baseballs to enhance the grip during the first half of the season.
Experimenting in the Minor Leagues
It is not unusual for Major League Baseball, who began overseeing Minor League Baseball in 2021, to conduct experiments in the lower levels attempting to enhance the experience of the game for players and fans. Other experiments that have succeeded are larger bases, the pitch clock, and the universal designated hitter. Some are still being tried out such as robot umpires and some discarded like moving the pitchers mound back.
This is not the first time MLB has tried using pre-tacked baseballs. They have experimented in 2021 and 2022 before. Players are on the fence with the experiment especially because the switch makes it difficult to get some consistency. Once a player gets used to how a tacky ball feels they are now having to go back to using standard baseballs.
Standard Baseball vs. Pre-Tacked Baseball
There is a noticeable change in pitchers velocity and break but that is not always a good thing. What pitchers are used to understanding where their ball should end up is now breaking much further than anticipated. Strikeouts and walks are up considerably in the Southern League during the first half as well.
Players who have played this sports for many years are having a hard time adjusting to video game-like pitches.
Major League Baseball plans to compare the results of the first and second half of the season. What makes this experiment somewhat controversial in my opinion is that these guys are trying to still make it to the Big Leagues and production is way down offensively. Conversely, pitchers may become over confident only to realize some of their skill was tied to the experimental baseball.
What Will Happen in the Second Half
It sounds like the players are excited and happy to get back to using standard baseballs. My hypothesis is that batting averages go up and pitchers return to baseline. I suppose we will all see at the end of the year.
How do you feel about pre-tacked baseballs? Is it an unfair advantage for the pitcher? How can baseball balance it out for a batter if pre-tack baseballs become the norm?