A month later, how Red Sox hitters have fared after sticky stuff crackdown


June 21.

That was the official day Major League Baseball umpires sprung into action, checking pitchers as they came off the mound for any semblance of grip-enhancing substances.

At the time, Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez suggested his team was going to be the big winners with the opportunity for the hitters to level the playing field. So, was he right? Has it changed all that much?

The answer ... Kind of.

When asked about the differences he has noticed over the last month, Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers was able to identify a few.

"The thing that I’ve seen so far is that I’ve seen a few more hanging sliders, breaking balls, I should say," Hyers said Tuesday afternoon. "I few more breaking balls. I’ve seen a lot more two-seamers come into play. Probably not as many high fastballs that they can get away with in the top of the zone. I think pitchers, for the most part, have had to be pretty precise at the top of the zone. That’s the early part of what hitters are talking about. I think we’re going to see the changeup come into play a lot more because of it.

"I think there probably isn’t a huge difference, but we’ve seen those things where our hitters have come back and said, ‘We’ve seen those hanging breaking balls more than we’ve seen the last year or so.’ As far as our offense, I think obviously we have the impact if they hang some pitches in the middle of the zone, hanging sliders, we have a chance to do some damage. But I think it goes back to, for our offense we still have to get the ball over the plate, we’ve got to swing at strikes. Alex (Cora) touched on that. So as far as the substance, we still still have to stick to our game plan and do what we do best and that’s hitting mistakes and getting guys in our zone so we can attack and do damage."

When looking numbers across the board for all big league hitters, there has been a slight difference. Before the crackdown, hitters were combining for a league-wide .239 batting average and .718 OPS. After both have risen, with the averages going to .248 and .742, respectively.

As for the Red Sox, their team batting average prior to that fateful Monday was .258 with a .758 OPS. After, there really hasn't been that much of a change, with Alex Cora's club clocking in at .255 and .778.

Individually, the largest uptick has come from Kiké Hernandez, who was hitting .233 with a .691 OPS prior to June 21. Since then his batting average has been .247 with a .942 OPS.

Over the last month, the Red Sox have had six regulars manage an OPS Of .847 or better, with J.D. Martinez leading the way at 1.010 after heading into that June date riding a .919 OPS. Another hitter who has surged since the alteration is Hunter Renfroe, going from a .745 OPS to .847 in the last 30 days.

And in case you were wondering, the Red Sox' pitchers ERA has dropped from 4.24 to 3.69 since the change.

As for the most important stat, wins and losses. Well, before June 21 the Red Sox possess .597 winning percentage (43-29), and since they are at .609 (14-9).