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Spin Rate and Spider Tack: Dominance on the mound has taken a sticky twist

Spider Tack and Spin Rate
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New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom has set records on the mound in 2021. As a result, the hurler is one of the reasons why the baseball world is calling this year a repeat of 1968. 

If only things were so simple. 

Aside from increased strikeout rates and record-low batting averages across the league, the story of 2021 is quickly becoming about how pitchers are excelling, as opposed to why.

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The answer to the question appears to be a complicated one, especially if New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole is the one who’s expected to give the response. But in short, hurlers using foreign substances to increase the spin rate on their pitches is the premium conversation in baseball right now. The build-up to the discussion didn’t happen overnight. In fact, strikeout rates have seen drastic increases since 2016. But the real question is whether “cheating” is the main contributing factor why 2021 is becoming The Year of the Pitcher: Part 2

Answering that question is the MLB’s task, and that won’t be done overnight either. 

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Spin rate has changed the game

The spin rate statistic was born in 2016. Measured in revolutions per minute (RPM), the number has seemingly changed the game. In theory, the higher the RPM, the harder the pitch is to hit. And getting a better grip on the ball by using a foreign substance only helps the cause. It’s a conversation that Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Trevor Bauer has indulged in via Twitter in the past.

 

Controversy in baseball is nothing new

Similar to Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) for hitters in the late 1990’s, pitchers using foreign substances isn’t exactly enforced by the MLB in a way which makes it totally illegal. The difference in the steroid era and what’s happening on the mound today is evident though. The 1998 Mark McGwireSammy Sosa home run chase provided Americans with one of the most exciting summers ever. Hurlers dominating on the mound in 2021 only pleases the ones who love low-scoring pitchers duels. In other words, not the majority of the country. Not to mention, if there’s blatant cheating involved, it’s hard to imagine even the most pitcher-friendly baseball watchers being impressed. 

It’s no secret that the league wants more offense. Labeling this season as The Year of the Pitcher: Part 2 surely wouldn’t be music to the ears for the MLB’s office in New York City. 

But there’s a reason that in June of 2021, the conversation of pitchers potentially cheating at a high rate is dominating the story. This is a league that’s only less than two years removed from dealing with the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. 

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The MLB is on the clock

The build-up to this has been gradual. But it hasn’t been until now where momentum appears to be moving in the direction where another cheating controversy has to be addressed. To speculate on where the league will be on the issue in two-months time provides little insight. Instead, the baseball world is forced to look at the new-age, yet revealing spin rate statistic. 

Comparing 2021 to 1968 is fair from a pitchers perspective. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson’s performance on the mound over 50 years ago looks a lot like what deGrom is doing today. If only the baseball world can compare the two star-hurlers and call it a day. 

Instead, looking at the dominance on the mound in 2021 has taken a sticky twist. Calling it a repeat of 1968 will have to wait. 

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Follow Logan Lockhart on Twitter @lgllockhart

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Check us out on our socials:   
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk 
Instagram: @primetimesportstalk

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