07/28 00:15 CDT EXPLAINER: Olympic baseball a throwback to pre-analytics age
EXPLAINER: Olympic baseball a throwback to pre-analytics age
By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) --- If the Colorado Rockies were in the Olympics, they'd
have had some shorter nights.
Olympic baseball, which started Wednesday, has some notable differences from
Major League Baseball.
A biggie is the rout rule, which would have saved some innings for the Rockies.
A game is over when a team is losing by at least 10 runs after seven innings.
That would have cut short the Colorado's 12-2 win over Philadelphia on April
25, their 12-0 loss to San Francisco the following day and their 13-8 win over
Cincinnati on May 13.
The Olympic rout rule was put in place by the World Baseball Softball
Confederation for all but medal round games: The final out also has occurred if
a team is ahead by 15 runs after five innings.
Olympic baseball is a throwback to the pre-analytics age. MLB Statcast isn't
installed, so there is no scrunity of spin rates, exit velocity and launch
"Basically, we had nothing," American third baseman Todd Frazier said after the
Americas qualifying tournament. "We had no video. We had no analytical process.
It's `Here's your bat. Bring your own stuff.'"
Here are 10 nuggets to compare and contrast.
10. THE BALLS ARE DIFFERENT. Balls are not the major league Rawlings variety,
but a WBSC version with slightly different seams. Then again, the WBSC ran out
of baseballs at the Americas qualifying tournament in Florida and organizers
switched mid-tournament to minor league balls.
9. FASTER IN KILOMETERS. The only metric is truly metric: Pitch speeds are
listed on the Yokohama Stadium scoreboard in both miles per hour and kilometers
per hour. For those wondering, Jacob deGrom's major league-leading 99.2 mph
average velocity sounds even more unhittable at 159.6 kph.
8. WHO'S HERE AND WHO'S NOT. DeGrom, of course, isn't at the Olympics, which is
limited to players not on 40-man major league rosters. And even then, players
who technically are eligible often are blocked by their clubs. St. Louis
Triple-A left-hander Matthew Liberatore pitched for the U.S. in qualifying but
the Cardinals refused to let him go to Japan, fearing a few more injuries to
their major league pitching staff would put him in line for a possible
promotion. Rosters have a vintage feel. The U.S. team includes Edwin Jackson
and David Robertson. The Dominican batting order in Wednesday's opener included
Jose Bautista, Juan Francisco and Emilio Bonifacio. Japan, however, stopped its
Central and Pacific League seasons for the Games and has Masahiro Tanaka on its
pitching staff. Oh: And rosters are 24 players rather than 26.
7. MORE EXTRA-INNING RUNNERS. The radical rule placing a runner on second base
at the start of each extra inning is even more extreme: Runners are placed on
first AND second. MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association adopted
the runner on second in extra innings last year as a pandemic method of getting
people out of ballparks faster, but Commissioner Rob Manfred said it likely
will be dropped after this season.
6. TICK TOCK. A 20-second pitch clock is used with no runners on base, similar
to the one instituted at Triple-A and Double-A in 2018.
5. WATCH THE TOUCHING. There also is a high-five limitation. No congratulations
from coaches while rounding the bases. "When a batter hits a home run, members
of his team shall not be allowed to touch the hitter until he has passed the
home plate," the regulations state.
4. ACCESS AND INFORMATION. Probable pitchers? Perhaps. Managers' thoughts
pregame? They will not be able to meet media on game days until after games,
WBSC spokesman Richard Baker said. Thoughts from stars of the game? Clubhouses
are closed and while players are required to walk by media on the way out of
the ballpark, they do not have to speak with reporters.
3. KEEPING THINGS MOVING. Manager and coach mound trips? Instead of one per
pitcher per inning without a required pitching change, three during each game
without a switch, with an additional trip for each three extra innings. There
is also a limit of three stoppages for managers and coaches with batters or
2. NO HOME-PLATE COLLISIONS. Attempting to dislodge the ball by barreling into
the catcher is prohibited.
1. A NOTE TO HOUSTON ASTROS ALUMNI: "The use of electronic devices is forbidden
during the games. None of the electronic devices such as cellular phones,
laptops, tablets, video cameras, walkie-talkies, shall be used to communicate
to on-field personnel, those in the dugout, bullpen, clubhouse and stands. The
only exception to this rule is the use of phone/cellular phone to communicate
between dugout and bullpen, however such device must be approved by WBSC in
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and