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Re: Baseball Science Mistakes


Posted by: James Conrad (blinded15@comcast.net) on Mon May 7 21:52:13 2007


(Original Post at bottom)

Joe A,
I know I am about 2 years too late, but I need to comment on your insufficient attempt at a rebuttal on an article written 5 years even before your posting.
The article you are referring to was a short synopsis of a study done by a Yale University physicist, Robert Adair, and can be found on BBC News website at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/specials/washington_2000/649907.stm

First, while your statement that most batter stand with their front foot in front of the plate may be true in high school, or even when MLB players face slow throwing pitchers like Tim Wakefield or Jamie Moyer, it certainly isn't true against any pitcher averaging above 90mph on fastballs. Most MLB hitters stand with their back foot touching or just in front of rear line of the batters box, which usually place their front foot at the rear end of the plate before stride, and right at the front of the plate after stride.

Next, the location of the bat in comparison of the body completely depends where the pitch is. On an outside pitch, a batter makes contact with the ball at approximately the same point as his back knee, or approximately 6 inches behind the back of the plate plate. Using Barry Bonds as an example, you can see that here: http://www.amherst.edu/sports/current/mantle/tips/bonds.jpg

On a pitch down the middle, the hitter makes contact at approximately his front knee, which will be directly over the plate, slightly behind the middle, seen again by Barry Bonds here:
http://www.eteamz.active.com/irmolittleleague/images/BarryBondsSwing.jpg

On an inside pitch, contact is made about about 6-12 inches in front of the front foot, which after a pivot rests right at the front of the plate. The location of the front foot can be seen here: http://www.fantasybaseballupdate.com/files/images/10138598.jpg
The followthrough of Barry Bonds can be seen in this picture as well. The hands of a batter almost never extends beyond his front foot, even during his followthrough. Assuming each hand is approximately 4 inches thick and the batter is using a standard 34 inch MLB wood bat, that leaves 26 inches, or 2.16 feet of bat that could even possibly extend past the plate. If the batter pointed his bat directly at the pitcher, it would only extend about 2 feet past the plate during a followthrough, so your claim that contact is made 2.5 feet in front of the plate is absolutely absurd. A hitter will have little success trying to poke at the ball like a pool stick as you suggest he is.

You also failed to mention that the Yale Physicist took into account the decrease of the speed of the ball on the way to the plate, stating a 90mph fastball is travelling approximately 82mph by the time it crosses the plate, which actually increases reaction time, and does not decrease it as you claim.

Your futile attempt to disprove something you know nothing about in a public format is misleading and misguiding to everyone around you. Before you start throwing out arbitrary values that you figured out while sitting on a couch in your apartment, please take the time to understand what you are suggesting.

~James Conrad
Lafayette math major graduate specializing in Baseball Statistics


Original Post
> I googled the term "Science of Hitting, baseball."
>
> One of the sites that popped up talked about reaction time of a 90 mph pitch over 60 feet 6 inches. There were a lot of calculations based on these basic facts and a lot of conclusions based on these calculations.
>
> Lets look at this ‘science.' The distance of 60 ft 6 inches is measured from the rubber to the point of the plate. The point of the plate points toward the catcher. Major league pitchers will release the ball from 4 to 6 ft in front of the rubber.
>
> No batters tries to make contact over the point of the plate. Most batters stand with their front foot in front of the plate and try to hit the ball at or just before the front hip. The plate is 1 ½ feet from front to point. Batter will hit the ball at least a foot in front of the front edge of the plate.
>
> So, say 5 feet in front of the rubber and 2 ½ feet in front of the point of the plate totals 7 ½ feet from the 60 ½ feet or 53 feet of actual travel time. This is at least 10% less then the distance used to calculate travel time.
>
> This is what passes for science in sports today. This is an error so fundamental that the word science does not really apply. And I can give you many more examples of similar or worse uses of the term ‘science.' I snuggest that you don't believe anything called ‘science' unless you know the facts behind the conclusions and even facts can be misleading.
>
> Joe A.


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