The Underlying Effects of the Sticky Substance Ban On the MLB

Mitchell Reardon head shot

Name: Mitchell Reardon
Major: Mathematics
Minor: Statistical and Data Sciences
Advisors: Colby Long and Christina Horr

The sticky substance ban that occurred near the beginning of the 2021 Major League Baseball season created lasting impacts on the game. In particular, pitchers are no longer able to legally use grip-enhancing substances while pitching. In turn, affecting how pitchers go about fulfilling their role, which is to get batters out. Concurrently, Sabermetricians were homing in on the influence of spin rate on the outcome of an at-bat. As a result, the empirical analysis of baseball became the forefront of our research in determining how the ban changed the way Major League Baseball is played. Initially, we used linear regression to determine if fastball spin rates did indeed change after the ban was enacted. It was made apparent that approximately one hundred pitchers experienced statistically significant declines in fastball spin rates after the ban: some declines more significant than others. Gerrit Cole, who was explicitly accused of using sticky substances, showcased a significant decline in fastball spin rate as expected. Similarly, we will utilize logistic regression to determine if spin rate can be used to predict the likelihood of a strikeout being the result of a plate appearance. Ideally, the logistic regression model will show that higher average fastball spin rates will result in a higher likelihood of a strikeout occurring. Lastly, to further our understanding of the sticky substance ban, we wish to explore the connection between game theory and pitch selection. Will pitching strategy change as a result of the sticky substance ban being enacted? Ultimately, our research will provide an insider’s look into an event that altered Major League Baseball forever.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2022.

2 responses to “The Underlying Effects of the Sticky Substance Ban On the MLB”

  1. Mike Oxlong says:

    Mitchell, this is fantastic work and provides amazing insight into how the game of baseball has been changed! It is really inspiring to see all of your hard-work on the field and in the classroom pay off. The mathematical models used are of the highest quality to maximize this study. Best wishes to you!

  2. Stove says:

    Very interesting topic Mitchell! Your hard work and research shows the continued growth and evolution of baseball, and the charmin soft tactics of commissioner Rob Manfred. Have a splendid symposium! Best wishes!!

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