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HOME > PAST ISSUE > May-June 2005 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Predicting a Baseball's Path

A batter watches the pitcher's motion plus the spin on the ball to calculate when and where it will cross the plate

A. Terry Bahill, David Baldwin, Jayendran Venkateswaran

Figure 1. As a professional pitcher releases a baseball...Click to Enlarge Image

When a major-league pitcher delivers a 95-mile-per-hour fastball, a batter gets one-quarter of a second to assess the oncoming ball and decide whether and where to swing. That problem in perceptual and motor skills grows even more complicated because a pitcher can choose from a half-dozen or more pitches, all delivered at various speeds with different trajectories. Just in time for the first pitch of the season, the authors explain the physics behind various pitches and how a batter might get an edge by analyzing the appearance of a pitch. This research also gives pitchers a few tips on ways to better disguise a pitch.


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