The Z Files: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

The Z Files: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

Often, to figure out where we are going, it helps to understand where we've been. The first two months of the 2021 MLB campaign were wacky thanks to lingering COVID-19 effects and a new ball. Not to mention, cold and wet conditions plagued the Atlantic Coast and Midwest.

The final four months are already off to a precarious start with MLB reportedly cracking down on the substances pitchers use to (in theory) improve their grip.  In reality, the added tackiness vastly increases the spin rate of certain pitches.

What follows is an examination of four elements of play affecting the first two month of the season. The associated data will be compared to that in April and May from 2017-2019. When applicable, the number will be presented by month. The four factors investigated will be:

  • The Ball
  • Strikeouts
  • BABIP
  • Spin Rate

The Ball

The initial reports suggested the 2021 baseball would reduce average exit velocity since the outermost string was not wrapped as tightly. This resulted in less string which also slightly reduced the weight of the ball. In addition, the seams were said to be a bit higher.

Here is a breakdown of the component average exit velocity. Unless otherwise stated, everything presented excludes pitchers in the batter's box.

KEY:

  • GB – ground ball
  • FB - fly ball
  • ILD - infield line drive
  • OLD – outfield line drive
Season

Overall

GB

FB

ILD

OLD

2017

88.1

84.3

91.0

86.9

94.3

2018

89.3

86.9

91.7

86.8

94.5

2019

89.3

86.6

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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