Sunday, March 19, 2006

Why Men are not Really Necessary I

So my sons and I are wondering, does a corked bat actually help? Can you hit further, better, more often? The rules of baseball make a pretty big deal of this.

My wife's reaction: "It's against the rules. Why don't you mow the lawn?"

My reaction: "Wow. This beats mowing the lawn."

So, we buy three bats, each of which look like this:

Just for the record, they are 32 inch, 1 drop bats. Identical, as far as specifications and inspection could reveal.

We want to compare three bats:
1. A pristine, wood bat. No doctoring. Our "control" bat.
2. A drilled out bat, with superballs inserted. Our "superball" bat.
3. A drilled out bat, with cork inserted. Our "Sammy Sosa" bat.

The bat innards we wanted to add looked like this:

And the drilled out bats looked like this:

So...we take the bats out to a baseball field on a nice day (which is nearly any day here in NC), and let fly off a tee. Three different batters, different size and strength. We hit 5 balls each, for each of the three, so that each bat gets 15 trials with identical (as far as we could) variance of inputs.

And the answer?

The undoctored bat is the best, in terms of overall average. But the difference is not statistically significant.

Now, some possibilities:
1. Bettering doctoring might produce better results. But we drilled the hole just big enough to accept the relevant stuffing materials, packed them in with silicone glue, and sealed the ends with silicone and a cork plug.
2. Force = Mass x Acceleration. So, though it was true (or so it felt) that we could swing FASTER with the doctored bats, it would appear that this speed difference was approximately offset by the reduced mass of the bat on its end.
3. My son Brian has a hypothesis: Take a bat longer and heavier than you normally use. Doctor this bat, in one of the ways we tried. It will feel, in terms of weight, like your normal bat. But it will perform like a longer bat, because it is longer. And that's the thing: the acceleration relevant here is the movement of the bat head, and of course a longer bat gives the bat more acceleration. Our experiment, by holding length constant, misses this effect, which Brian claims is the real reason some people use corked bats.
4. On the other hand, others (using more serious methods) have found basically the same thing.

I should say: all the actual work, except the drilling part, was done by my son Brian Munger and his partner Drew Chandler.

Whoops! It's getting late. I better go mow the lawn. Or it will be a cold, cold night here at the End. I don't want my wife to remember just how unnecessary I am, and this whole batting thing could have that effect.


Josh said...

Excellent Post. I've always wondered about the benefits of the corked bat...Well, it seems that, ultimately, the lesson for baseball players is to stick with the 'roids.

Anonymous said...

In Tris Speaker (Cleveland Little League) I was the only kid not using aluminum bats. Coaches don't like players who do things differently and so mine made me stop. Only after he saw my bloop hits turn into lazy fly outs he told me to go back to hitting with wood. Perhaps that's why I play vintage baseball ... nah, it's probably just because I'm weird.

Chris said...

What about the effectiveness of increased speed on the bat?

You know as the guys get older, they can't turn on those fast balls as easily. Corkin' might be the best way of maintaining that bat speed for a little while longer. Might be motivated by ego more than true effectiveness

It's a thought.

Unknown said...

great post. sample size too small.

over/under on the "i got your sample size right here pal" email is 45 mins.