Why Lower the Seams for College Baseball?

 

With college baseball season right around the corner there has been a huge debate whether lowering the seams on the ball used for college baseball will produce more offensive firepower.

As a former NCAA Division I, professional relief pitcher, and a high school, junior college, and NCAA Division II coach this is quite interesting. The vast majority of college baseball players will never play beyond the college level. So why is it of such importance to change the baseball to mimic that of a professional baseball?

“Through the generations of the game, it’s been so up and down,” said Vanderbilt University head coach Tim Corbin, who led the Commodores to their first national championship in 2014. “We’ve always wanted to find that medium where there’s some harmony between offense and defense. I don’t know if we’ve ever been exposed to that.” (David Brandt, AP Sports Writer)

There always will be a discussion about why hitters are at an advantage and why the pitchers have an advantage. The bottom line is whoever has a better at-bat or who threw a better pitch will win the battle. If you look at the statistical data, such as batting average, the best hitters in the game hit .300-.330. The last player to hit .400, Ted Williams, happened to do so in 1941, some 74 years ago. With that being said, a pitcher will get the best hitters out seven out of ten times.

The essence of the game hasn’t change since it started in 1845. You have a pitcher throwing a ball and a hitter trying to hit it. If a pitcher can locate his pitches, it doesn’t matter what velocity he throws or what kind of seams are on the baseball, he will get the hitter out. If the pitcher throws the ball over the middle of the plate, good hitters will square it up and hit it a long way no matter what the velocity.

College pitchers also say there are reasons to be excited about the switch. Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler and UCLA’s James Kaperlian — both considered high-level prospects for June’s Major League Baseball amateur draft — don’t expect to have many issues.

“Personally, I like it,” Kaperlian said. “I think pitchers who throw tight breaking balls and throw through the glove are still going to be very successful. There shouldn’t be too much of a drop off.”

Buehler agreed: “If you’re a guy who needed the high seams to get some spin on the ball then it might be a problem. But for guys with power stuff — two-seam fastballs, cutters and sliders — I think it could be beneficial.” (David Brandt, AP Sports Writer)

There always will be instances that confirm whether a game was well-pitched or that the hitters were seeing the ball well that day. Since there has been a dramatic drop-off in the power numbers, all the “experts” feel there should be a change with the ball to help the hitters gain an advantage back.

When will people realize that it is not the equipment that is the problem and realize it’s the person using the equipment? The old adage that was told to me many years ago comes to mind when I had a bad day on the mound: “Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.”

Brandt, D. (January 23. 2015). New Flat-Seam Baseball in College Game Should Help Hitters.

Retrieved from: http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/28074057/new-flat-seam%20baseball-in-college-game-should-help-hitters

Dr. Bret Simmermacher is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the United States Sports Academy. He can be reached at bsimmer@ussa.edu.

 

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