There has been speculation this postseason that MLB changed the ball to one with less drag than the one used during the regular season and Justin Verlander is all for it.
Well, to be more accurate, he is just fine with it as long as everyone is using the same ball. What he does like is the extra strategy that has come with this postseason after it became evident the ball wasn't flying as far. Baseball Prospectus did a great piece demonstrating the difference.
In the first game of the National League Championship Series on Friday, there were five or six bunt attempts which have become a foreign thing in today's MLB. In the Cardinals' 13-1 win over the Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS, St. Louis scored 10 runs in the first inning without a single home run.
Verlander likes to see teams getting on base any way that they can. He's not a huge fan of hitters waiting around for the home run.
"I think the ball incredibly dictates the game play on the field that fans witness," he told reporters ahead of ALCS Game 1 on Saturday, via ESPN. "I mean, I think this year is a great example of that, I mean, stolen base opportunities were down, you know, moving a guy over, all the risks that you would take, the unnecessary risks we do now to have a baserunner get out on the basepaths, trying to go from first to third, trying to turn a single into a double, all those little things, they've slowly worked their way out of the game this season.
"Those small victories that you see throughout the course of a ballgame because every single batter in the lineup can go deep on the next pitch and, you know, when you're playing in a game where there's more extra-base hits than there were singles, I mean, why would you risk that? I understand that.
"So for me personally, I mean, I would kind of like a little…I would like to see some of that small ball come back into play, and I don't want to call it small ball, that's the wrong terminology, I mean, I don't think…everybody thinks small ball they think of bunting, you know, I think of the little things, taking the extra bases, using your athleticism as a team to create extra runs.
"I mean, you look at the course of an inning and we're almost playing like a ADD version of baseball right now where it's like these huge elation moments, home run, home run, yeah, yeah, and then you're just kind of sitting there waiting for the next moment with a bunch of strikeouts in between and if you're not a fan of strikeouts then what are you watching?"
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) October 12, 2019
Verlander has been critical of how the baseball, and consequently the home run, has affected MLB this year and the past several years in general. He famously said earlier this season that baseball isn't about missing barrels anymore but missing bats entirely.
He said he believes there is more excitement in baseball than just home runs. And there are certainly exciting ways to go about scoring runs that don't take balls flying going over the fence.
"You think of getting a guy on first base, next guy hits the ball to right field and that guy going from first to third, that's a great moment to cheer," he said. "You know, the next guy hitting a sac fly, that's another good moment to cheer, I mean there's so many different ways to love this baseball game that I think have kind of fallen by the wayside a little bit."
Verlander will start Game 2 on Sunday of the ALCS. He will take on Yankees lefty James Paxton.