MLB: Five changes to save baseball from being boring

A Cincinnati Reds usher adds a "K" the the strikeout wall during the day baseball game against Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (27) had 12 strikeouts during the game.
A Cincinnati Reds usher adds a "K" the the strikeout wall during the day baseball game against Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (27) had 12 strikeouts during the game. /
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Changing the coefficient of restitution of the ball would incentivize more scientific approaches to hitting. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Changing the coefficient of restitution of the ball would incentivize more scientific approaches to hitting. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Ball

A major league baseball is required to undergo tests to determine its resiliency. Under the existing rule, a ball must have what is called a ‘coefficient of restitution’ – think of it as a bounceback factor – between .514 and .578.

If that sounds like a very broad range, it is. But that’s just the letter of the rulebook. The reality is very different.

In baseball’s real world, balls are constructed to meet far more exacting standards, with coefficients of restitution rarely varying much from .55.

Thus, under the existing rules, it would be completely legal to construct a significantly softer baseball for use in a MLB game. Such a ball would dis-incentivize overswinging, and incentivize contact.

And you don’t even need to change a rule. All you need to do is instruct the ball manufacturer to henceforward set the normal coefficient of restitution down five or 10 tics, into the range of .45.

Such a change would actually conform more closely to the legal .46 midpoint anticipated in the rulebook. Confronted by an ever-so-slightly softer ball, batters should do the logical thing…try to hit it. Putting the ball in play is less boring,  which is what we’re all about.

Those who want to continue to try to kill it will be the worse for the experience.