Nathan: Optimizing the swing: Paying homage to Teddy Ballgame

From SABR member Alan Nathan at The Hardball Times on December 24, 2015:

This is a follow-up to my previous THT article, which as you might guess was titled “Optimizing the Swing.” The initial motivation for the article was to determine whether a curveball can be hit farther than a fastball, assuming both are hit optimally. That led to a discussion of the parameters that define a batter’s swing and how those parameters can be adjusted to lead to maximum distance. But there are other definitions of “optimum” besides maximum distance, such as maximum on-base probability. That topic will be the primary focus of this article.

Before going on, I want to remind you of the diagram in the earlier article showing the geometry of the ball-bat collision. Recall that the important parameters are the descent angle of the incoming pitch, the attack angle of the batter’s swing (sometimes called the “swing plane”), and the offset. The latter is the vertical distance between the centers of the ball and bat and is a measure of the batter’s aim. Also shown is the dotted centerline connecting the centers of the bat and ball, with an orientation (the centerline angle) determined uniquely by the offset. “Squared-up” collisions are those where the attack angle approximately coincides with the centerline angle.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: December 28, 2015. Last Updated: December 28, 2015.