Week 1 - New Low-Seam Baseball

After a weekend of playing college baseball, how has the new low-seam baseball affected the game of baseball? In this article I'll look specifically at the first weekend of games played for seven teams in the Southeastern Conference, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

There was a lot of talk during the off-season about how much effect the new low-seam baseball would have on the game of college baseball. As most of you know by now, the NCAA approved the use of the low-seam baseball for college baseball beginning this season.

Research showed that the low-seam baseball travels further than the raised-seam baseball that college baseball teams have been using. Due to that research, the NCAA assumed more home runs would be hit, which in turn would increase the overall offensive numbers of college baseball, something that has been going down the last 5 seasons.

Home runs fell from 0.94 a game in 2010 to a record-low 0.39 in 2014. Runs scored dropped from 6.98 to 5.08 during the same period.

So, with a weekend of playing games has there been much of an effect on the seven teams that I mentioned in my lead paragraph? My research compares the first weekend of the 2015 season (24 games) to the first 24 games of seasons 2013 and 2014.

Combined, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M hit a total of 16 home runs in 24 games played in 2015, which is an average of 0.67 home runs per game. Combining seasons 2013 and 2014, the same seven teams hit a combined 23 home runs in 48 games, an average of 0.48 home runs per game.

Based on those numbers, there is a slight increase in home runs, about 1 more every five games. But there is nothing dramatic in that number.

While home runs haven't increased that much, there is one offensive power stat that has increased more than home runs have, doubles.

During 2015, the seven teams have hit 57 doubles in 24 games compared to a combined total of 71 during the first 24 games of the 2013, 2014 seasons.

If you divide 57 doubles by 24 games, that is an average of 2.38 doubles per game in the 2015 season compared to 1.48 doubles per game in the 2013, 2014 seasons (71 divided by 48). That is almost 1 double more per game in 2015.

While doubles and home runs are important stats, another stat even more important is runs scored. How has it been affected?

During the 2013, 2014 seasons, the seven teams scored 302 runs in a combined 48 games, an average of 6.29 runs per game. During the first 24 games of the 2015 season, those same seven teams scored 236 runs, an average of 9.83 runs per game, an increase of about 3.5 runs per game when compared to the 2013, 2014 seasons average.

That number is obviously very dramatic. I don't expect it to remind that high as the season progresses but it leads you to believe the offensive numbers will definitely increase. And that is what the NCAA was hoping for when deciding to switch over to the low-seam baseball.

Since my website focuses on Mississippi State, I'll take a look at the doubles, home runs and runs scored numbers of the 2015 season compared to the 2013, 2014 seasons just for Mississippi State games.

In the first four games of 2015 (3 vs Cincinnati, 1 vs Miami (OH)), Mississippi State scored 48 runs, hit 8 doubles and 3 home runs. During the first four games of the 2013, 2014 seasons (3 vs Western Carolina, 1 vs Memphis, 4 vs Portland), Mississippi State scored a total of 50 runs, hit 9 doubles and 2 home runs.

If you want to look at the averages for those seasons, in 2015 MSU has scored 12 runs per game, hit 2 doubles per game and about 0.75 home runs per game. The averages for 2013, 2014 were 6.25 runs per game, 1.13 doubles per game and 0.25 home runs per game. All three of those numbers are double or almost double the number in 2015 when compared to the 2013, 2014 seasons.

Obviously, many of the teams that MSU will face later in the season are better than the caliber of teams they played during the early portion of the season, but when you look at the average numbers for the entire season, the numbers aren't that much different. During the 2013, 2014 seasons, Mississippi State wound up averaging about 5.4 runs per game, which is about 0.85 less than they averaged the first 4 games for each of those seasons.

Will the numbers for 2015 be similar to what happened in 2013 and 2014? Time will tell but it does appear the offensive numbers for MSU will be much better this season. And part of the reason for that appears to be the new low-seam baseball.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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