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Is pine tar being used to increase spin rate?

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A truly fascinating article from Eno Sarris.

 

It breaks down allegations from Trevor Bauer that a player like Gerrit Cole is using something like pine tar to increase spin rate (and alleges Bauer himself may have used it to prove it)

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21 minutes ago, bmags said:

A truly fascinating article from Eno Sarris.

 

It breaks down allegations from Trevor Bauer that a player like Gerrit Cole is using something like pine tar to increase spin rate (and alleges Bauer himself may have used it to prove it)

Pitchers have always used pine tar to get a better grip on the ball and to make the movement increase.

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16 hours ago, ptatc said:

Pitchers have always used pine tar to get a better grip on the ball and to make the movement increase.

Pitchers have always used a lot of things, lotion, resin, yes.

The article talks about how pitchers feel pine tar specifically is leading to a measurably increased spin rate on 4seam fastballs. And with the obsession with spin rate in the league right now, that may be leading to exploitation.

The use is obviously a "against the rules, but rarely enforced" part of the game. But if pine tar specifically helps increase spin rate and spin rate has shown to make pitchers more effective, I think it needs to be regulated above board (either say it's good to use or not good to use).

But it's not actually known yet whether that is true. All of the claims are by bauer and he himself may be trying to prove it. Other pitchers that aren't crazy wouldn't really make this fight. But Bauer is crazy.

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werent there always rumors that teams would try to target non-steroid users who might "benefit" from being around the steroid users in their organizations? kinda reminds me of this a bit 

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4 hours ago, daa84 said:

werent there always rumors that teams would try to target non-steroid users who might "benefit" from being around the steroid users in their organizations? kinda reminds me of this a bit 

That's exactly what I thought of. And honestly I'm fine with it if MLB just instead says "we're fine with pitchers using pine tar to increase grip" as they do with resin. But if it turns out it was way more effective than they realized for all pitches, then they should make an actual choice there. Not the current "it's illegal to use substances on the ball but also we don't care"

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8 hours ago, bmags said:

Pitchers have always used a lot of things, lotion, resin, yes.

The article talks about how pitchers feel pine tar specifically is leading to a measurably increased spin rate on 4seam fastballs. And with the obsession with spin rate in the league right now, that may be leading to exploitation.

The use is obviously a "against the rules, but rarely enforced" part of the game. But if pine tar specifically helps increase spin rate and spin rate has shown to make pitchers more effective, I think it needs to be regulated above board (either say it's good to use or not good to use).

But it's not actually known yet whether that is true. All of the claims are by bauer and he himself may be trying to prove it. Other pitchers that aren't crazy wouldn't really make this fight. But Bauer is crazy.

While spin rate wasnt always measured, thats always been the purpose of pine tar. Listen to Steve Stone talk about tr66ing to improve grip to get better spin and movement on a curve ball. Or like giolito early in the year when the cold wouldnt allow him to grip the ball and he couldnt throw the curve as well.

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Bauer's pretty reasonable response:

"

“We know how it affects spin rate and we know how spin rate affects outcomes and pitches and movements that have a big difference in a game, in a season and in each individual player’s career,” Bauer said. “It’s my opinion that it’s the same argument that was used when steroids were going on in the game. If you just look the other way and you let some people do it, the people who choose not to do it are at a competitive disadvantage, and that’s what’s going on right now.”

So, that’s Bauer’s plea: Create an even playing field.

“I don’t see that there’s a way to enforce it,” Bauer said, “because you can’t go check a pitcher every single inning, every single pitch or whatever. That’s currently how it is. You can get thrown out of the game and suspended for it if the umpire comes and checks and finds out, but it doesn’t happen. So, pick a substance that’s sticky, that gives you all of the performance benefits, and just put it on the back of the mound. That way, if you want to use it, you can, and everybody knows it’s being used. And then, if you want to use other substances and skirt the rule, whatever, have a certain amount of outlawed substances: Vaseline, or whatever. If you want to use sticky stuff, it’s right there on the mound. Put your fingers on it and throw.

“A lot of hitters are fine with it, because it’s been said they don’t want projectiles thrown 100 mph at their head when the pitcher has no clue where it’s going. Over 69 percent of the league probably uses it anyway, so there’s not really a whole lot of difference. But just make it legal so that way it’s an even playing field, and that way, when I want to use surgical grade stuff on my stitches on the backside of the pinkie finger that’s never going to touch the ball and has no effect on the game at all, I can use it and not be thrown out of the game or whatever. Meanwhile, while I can’t just use that stuff so I can pitch for my team in the postseason, you have guys using sticky stuff every single time they pitch, increasing their spin rate by 200 to 300 rpm and having a massive competitive advantage.”"

https://theathletic.com/339360/2018/05/02/sticky-situation-trevor-bauer-makes-clear-his-message-about-the-astros-and-pine-tar/?redirected=1

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14 hours ago, ptatc said:

While spin rate wasnt always measured, thats always been the purpose of pine tar. Listen to Steve Stone talk about tr66ing to improve grip to get better spin and movement on a curve ball. Or like giolito early in the year when the cold wouldnt allow him to grip the ball and he couldnt throw the curve as well.

The thing is is that the claim is that they did measure the change with spin rate and pine tar now (as above), and it's indicating it is a much bigger advantage. Your anecdotes are about using it to get extra bite on a curve, but spin rate is just as important for a 4 seam fb which is likely used much more often, so it could pose a significant advantage to pitchers who know.

And as bauer said, then just legalize it and make it above board so there isn't a haves and have nots situation. Let people know exactly how it works.

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