Trevor Bauer explains science around ‘sticky’ substances in MLB

For someone who has vehemently denied doctoring the baseball with “sticky stuff,” Trevor Bauer sure does have a good understanding of how foreign substances work.

Partaking in a mid-game interview during ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” the Dodgers pitcher offered a comprehensive breakdown of the advantages provided by sticky substances.

“It also keeps the ball stuck to your fingers longer so that you can actually apply the force in a way that’s tangential to the surface of the ball which increases spin, as opposed to putting force directly to the center of the ball which is gonna give you more linear velocity but not as much spin,” Bauer said.

“And it’s unclear whether the majority of the spin rate increase comes from the position that it allows you to get to or the increased friction on the ball, or whether it’s a combination of both, but that’s really where the performance enhancement comes from.”

Bauer has emerged as one of the poster boys for MLB’s crusade against “sticky” substances. In April, umpires collected multiple baseballs used by Bauer during a start against the Athletics, subjecting the balls to further examination.

  Trevor Bauer #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on after allowing a solo homerun
Trevor Bauer expertly explained the relationship between pitchers, sticky stuff, and spin rate.
Getty Images

Bauer has also witnessed a precipitous decline in his spin rate during the month of June, which happens to coincide with the beginning of MLB’s crackdown. All six of his pitches have featured less spin during June than they did in May, per Baseball Savant.

Earlier this month, Bauer blasted MLB’s sudden rule changes on Twitter.

“They’ve knowingly swept this under the rug for 4 years,” Bauer wrote. “Now they implement a knee jerk reaction to shifting public perception. Hard to hear them talk about ‘competitive integrity’ when they have no integrity to begin with.”

After pitching to a 1.73 ERA last season for the Reds and winning the NL Cy Young award, Bauer signed a 3-year, $102 million contract with the Dodgers in the offseason. He has a 2.57 ERA across 16 starts.


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