Is the battle against spin hopeless? Spin rates around baseball are climbing back up — almost back to where they were before baseball started to more actively enforce the foreign substance rules mid-season last year — and it’s probably due to some sort of evolution in the sticky solutions used by pitchers to augment their stuff.

And the reality is that’s only one of the ways pitchers have the edge over their counterparts at the plate right now, some of whom are increasingly frustrated about the situation.

“Pitchers have the ultimate advantage right now, with sticky stuff, the dead ball, and humidors,” lamented one major league hitter recently.

Last June, MLB made the seemingly unprecedented decision to ramp up enforcement of a pre-existing rule about using foreign substances to doctor the ball. There was immediately a precipitous drop in spin rates, but a mere two months later, we started to see players adjust to the enforcement method — consisting mostly of a check of the hat and belt — and regain some of their old spin rates. About a fifth of the players that saw a huge drop mid-season got their spin back late last year.

So baseball upped the enforcement this season and started touching pitchers’ hands. Which of course led to some tension, at least with certain pitchers.

The thinking is clear: the stickiest stuff leads to the biggest increases in spin rate (which in turn leads to the most dramatic increases in stuff) and so a check of the hand should keep anyone from using a substance that they can’t get off their hands quickly. If you’ve touched pine tar or Spider Tack — which was developed to help strongmen grip Atlas Stones during The World’s Strongest Man competitions — you know you can’t get it off easily.  So, check the hands, stop the crazy-level cheating. That makes sense.

But it looks like pitchers have found something clear and wipeable that gives them more of a boost than sunscreen and rosin, because spin rate is back up in baseball. Almost back to where it was before enforcement started.

The highest and lowest points in league-average spin rate in the spin-rate tracking era are both on this graph, so it’s not a trick of the y-axis: spin took a huge drop after enforcement, and then it started to creep back to past levels almost immediately. Adjusting for velocity, because velocity and spin are interrelated, creates the same graph. This is a real effect.

“It’s really obvious,” said a hitting coach who then rattled off examples of pitchers who had come to town recently and used some sort of substance.

But pitchers aren’t back to the extreme days of Spider Tack. You have to go through 51 pitcher seasons before you get to this year’s highest four-seam spin rate, and then another 123 pitcher seasons before you get to this year’s second-highest spin rate. The very top spin rates have been eliminated, but pitchers seem to be finding something that’s almost as good.