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Improve Your Home Run Chances - Walk Softly But Swing a Small Stick


From Baseball Physics: Anatomy of a Home Run by Davin Coburn in the June 2007 issue of Popular Mechanics, comes some interesting data/trends on home runs. Some of these are contrary to baseball-lifers’ opinions, but I assume that some players will take heed of the predictions. After all, one thing not in the article because it is obvious is the direct relation between salary and home-run prowess.

Check out the article for some interesting graphs that illustrate the following findings:

  • The sweet spot is larger than previously thought
  • Batted Ball Speed (BBS) is more of a determining factor in home runs. This leads to a prediction that increasing the swing speed is better than increasing the bat weight. A corollary to this is that lighter bats (31-32 oz) are ideal bats for pro players.
  • Because of the direction of spin when they reach the plate, curve balls can be hit farther than fast balls, even though fast balls leave the bat traveling faster.
Other interesting facts that can be derived in an introductory physics class is that the average pro swing imparts 4145 pounds of force to the ball, and the farthest a ball can be hit (with no wind to help it, and no rarefied air such as in Colorado) is approx 475 ft.

Although no physicist is quoted by name in the article, I believe that some, if not all, of the topics discussed come from Alan Nathan’s Physics of Baseball work, described in my earlier post on Willie Mays and Global Warming.