Nathan: Going deep on goin’ deep

From SABR member Alan Nathan at The Hardball Times on April 6, 2016:

Over the years I have been studying the physics of baseball, I have been totally fascinated with baseball aerodynamics. In a simple Physics 101 world, where the effects of the atmosphere are neglected, baseball trajectories are pretty boring. But we don’t live in such a simple world, and the atmospheric effects of drag and lift play a crucial role in the flight of a baseball.

When PITCHf/x data first became public in 2007, that system produced a veritable bonanza of information that has helped considerably with our quantitative understanding of the effects of drag and lift on a pitched baseball. But after a while those kinds of trajectories get pretty boring too, since they mostly follow a straight line, with just a little bit of deviation due to the combined effects of gravity and spin.

Far more varied, and therefore more interesting, are the trajectories of batted baseballs, which run the gamut from line drives (which are sort of like pitches) to fly balls to pop-ups. If the goal is to understand the atmospheric effects with quantitative precision, it is necessary to investigate all these varied kinds of trajectories. With the advent of Statcast, we now have the opportunity to do just that.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 6, 2016. Last Updated: April 6, 2016.