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Can X-ray Help with MLB’s Ball Problem?

Baseball Blog

Major League Baseball seems to have a problem with baseballs themselves.  Consistency of baseballs is essential to player safety,  fair play, and traditional underpinnings of the game.  Because we’ve had so much success helping golf ball manufacturers improve the consistency of their products, the team at Creative Electron got curious once again.

Concentricity likely influences performance


There are a number of factors that may be influencing the trouble with baseballs.  Inconsistency in the materials from which the balls are manufactured could be a factor.  The humidity at which the balls are stored certainly has an influence.  But what we learned in developing X-ray systems for the leading golf ball manufacturers is that concentricity matters.  And like multicore golf balls, baseballs are made up of multiple layers,  and concentricity of the inner core, called the pill, can be inconsistent.  With as many as 100 or more balls being used in a single MLB game, if even a small percentage are inconsistent, it could conceivably alter the outcome.

360 degree X-ray images shows ovalized pill.

Consistency = Integrity 


In the above image, we can easily see that the pill is not round.  How such inconsistency might influence a pitcher control, or the flight of the ball, we can’t say.  Our experience with the effects of eccentricity within the core of a multicore golf balls lead use to believe that it certainly warrants further investigation.  Below is an image of a ball with a much rounder, more concentric pill.

This ball has a round, well centered pill.

An X-ray study may help 

Again, whether one of the above balls might behave more erratically than the other, can’t be determined with X-ray analysis.  What we can do is image a number of balls, identifying those that have concentricity issues.  Once sorted, a blind test of sorts could be constructed to see if balls that were perfectly concentric preform differently that those that are not.

For the safety of the players and the integrity of the game, such an experiment seems warranted.  We’d certainly like to help!  To learn more about how Creative Electron helps manufacturers across industries improve quality and consistency, please reach out.

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