Quicker bat vs. heavier bat -which is best?

Quicker bat vs. heavier bat -which is best?

Post by Scott C. Walke » Wed, 15 May 1996 04:00:00


Hi,
   I've been wanting to get some more distance out of my hits.  I tend
to be a singles hitter, and I see the outfield pull up sometimes.  I'd
love to suprise them and knock it over their head, but every time I try,
I hit a regular fly ball which they easily catch.
   If I wanted to get more distance, would better bat speed or using a
heavier bat (more mass behind the hit) do the trick?  I guess I could
lift weights too...:-).

Thanks!
--
Scott

 
 
 

Quicker bat vs. heavier bat -which is best?

Post by Aaron Zi » Thu, 16 May 1996 04:00:00


Quote:

> Hi,
>    I've been wanting to get some more distance out of my hits.  I tend
> to be a singles hitter, and I see the outfield pull up sometimes.  I'd
> love to suprise them and knock it over their head, but every time I try,
> I hit a regular fly ball which they easily catch.
>    If I wanted to get more distance, would better bat speed or using a
> heavier bat (more mass behind the hit) do the trick?  I guess I could
> lift weights too...:-).

Scott,

Whichever bat you choose, you need to swing it as fast as you possibly
can. No one will argue with that. The question of optimum bat weight,
however, is still asked constantly. Everyone from players to coaches to
equipment designers to sports physiologists to physicists has tried to
answer it, and (as far as I can tell) there's still no definite
conclusion.

The conventional thinking (currently) is that distance is maximized by
maximizing bat speed, and therefore, the lighter the bat, the better. Most
people, however, temper that conclusion with the notion that your bat
speed will remain essentially constant up to a certain bat weight, so you
should use the weight at which your velocity first begins to decline
(somewhere around 28 ounces, give or take a few). I suspect that both of
these views are a little too simplistic, however. They don't take into
account such factors as: kinetic energy, angular momentum, moments of
inertia, elasticity, vibration, etc.

Suppose you plotted maximum distance versus bat weight. For a bat weight
of zero (no bat at all), your maximum distance would be zero (no matter
_how_ fast you could swing it). For a bat weight of, say, one ton, your
maximum distance would be about 15 feet (you certainly couldn't swing such
a bat, but the ball might hit it and bounce off). Somewhere in between
zero and one ton (probably in the range of 20 to 60 ounces), is the
optimum. That optimum will depend on the batter's physiology and
technique, as well as the bat's materials and construction, and it may or
may not correspond to the conventional thinking. You also have to worry
about sacrificing control in your quest for distance, but that's another
issue.

In his 1990 book, "The Physics of Baseball", Robert K. Adair (Sterling
Professor of Physics, Yale University) makes a compelling argument (based
on a model of the combined kinetic energy of the batter and the bat) that
the optimum bat weight (for distance alone) is at the high end of the
practical range -- higher than most players end up using. He also backs
his analysis with the following experimental results:

"Many years ago, 'This Week' magazine (May 20, 1962) reported the results
of an experiment in which Roger Maris batted for distance with five
different bats that varied from 33 ounces to 47 ounces. The bats were
copies from Hillerich & Bradsby records of the bats of previous great home
run hitters (Ruth used the 47-ounce bat to hit his 60 home runs). The
pitcher was a veteran Yankee batting-practice pitcher who expertly served
up hittable pitches. Though there were fluctuations in the length of the
drives, of course, a statistical analysis confirmed the trend seen
casually: the heavier the bat, the farther Maris hit the ball."

Of course, how Roger Maris hit a baseball with a solid wooden bat may not
have much bearing on how _you_ hit a softball with a hollow but plugged
bat made of aluminum, but it's worth thinking about (especially since the
theoretical analysis remains the same). On the other hand, I wouldn't be a
bit surprised if there were other theoretical models and/or experimental
results that showed different trends.

The bottom line is that everyone has an optimum bat size/weight/material,
but it's not necessarily the same as anyone else's. You need to experiment
to find your own optimum.

Oh, and lifting weights is still probably your best bet for hitting the
ball over the outfielders' heads.

Aaron Zick
Zick Technologies

P.S. Personally, if I'm trying to hit for distance (which is normally not
my best strategy), I seem to have the best luck with one of the
state-of-the-art, thin-handled, thin-walled, end-loaded, aircraft aluminum
bats weighing around 28 or 30 ounces. If I'm trying to hit for _average_
(and my share of doubles), however, I have much better success (around
.650) with my old Goliath. I bought this bat in 1978 for about $20. It's a
heavy monster -- the weight was never marked on the bat, but it's at least
35 ounces. It's thick-walled (it thunks instead of pings) and evenly
balanced (as opposed to end-loaded), which gives it a good-sized sweet
spot. It also has the thickest handle of any bat I've ever seen. This,
along with the even balance, is great for control, despite the bat's
weight. I can hit the ball hard with this bat, but I rarely fly out (or,
heaven forbid, pop up) with it. I can usually manage to "hit 'em where
they ain't" -- on a line or on the ground, normally pulling the ball. If
the outfield cheats up, I just aim for extra bases through the gaps or
down the baseline. I wouldn't enter this bat in a distance contest, but I
have yet to find one that works better (for me) in a game.

 
 
 

Quicker bat vs. heavier bat -which is best?

Post by Robert Smit » Fri, 17 May 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> Hi,
>    I've been wanting to get some more distance out of my hits.  I tend
> to be a singles hitter, and I see the outfield pull up sometimes.  I'd
> love to suprise them and knock it over their head, but every time I try,
> I hit a regular fly ball which they easily catch.
>    If I wanted to get more distance, would better bat speed or using a
> heavier bat (more mass behind the hit) do the trick?  I guess I could
> lift weights too...:-).

> Thanks!
> --
> ScottThis is what Ray De Marini had to say about the weight of the bat:

Let's get started. Subject - what weight bat to use.
I have done lots and lots of scientific testing relating to hitting a
softball. I have become a proponent of using light weight bats and here's
why: Using myself as and example - I generate approximately 95MPH bat
speed with
my 26ounce bat. I can generate just about the same 95MPH speed using a
29ounce bat. You would logically think that I should use the 29ounce bat,
no question. I can swing it as fast and the added mass will allow me to
hit the ball farther than with the 26ounce bat. Logic would be wrong!

The important part of the equation that isn't considered in the above
comparison is relative bat speed immediately after the ball has left the
bat. In other words, how much of my initial 95MPH speed was I able to
maintain while hitting through the ball. Here's the facts. I swing both
at 95MPH just prior to hitting the ball. With the 26ounce bat, my bat
speed immediately  after the ball is hit goes down to 56MPH! With the
29ounce bat, my bat speed goes down to 49MPH! In other words, with the
heavier bat, I'm swinging it fast but cannot push the bat through the
ball  and maintain as much speed as I can with the lighter bat.

Before we even take this subject much further I think it is crucial to
stop and realize the incredible fact that I lose that much speed from
hitting a 6.5 ounce ball. It simply amazes me. I have a pretty good
follow through, I am extremely strong and have a decent swing ... and I
lose all that speed when I hit the ball. I have tested lots of hitters,
it is a constant. You lose a lot of speed when you hit the ball.

If you really think about it, what separates the true power hitters  from
the mere mortals is their ability to maintain bat speed. Compare my stats
to that of a truly great player. I'll reference Larry Carter, one of the
most awesome distance and power hitters I've ever seen (and I've seen
most all of them!) Larry weighs 260lbs+ and is in great physical
condition with a vicious swing and scary strength. He can squat over
600lbs, bench 485lbs. and military press 275lbs. (easy)! You get the
message. Larry is strong! He is dedicated and a great, great banger.
Compare his bat speed to mine.It's the same at 95MPH. Larry uses a
31ounce bat ... I use a 26 ounce. So how come he hits the ball over 100
feet farther than I do?  Simple ... his speed during contact with the
ball.

Larry has the highest 'after' speed I have recorded. I finish at 56MPH,
Larry finishes at 89MPH. In other words, Larry literally loses NO bat
speed while powering throug the ball. Larry shouldn't go down in weight!
He isn't losing any speed with the 31 ounce ... there's no need to go
lighter. The question is can YOU? If you went with a lighter bat than you
now use, would you pickup 'finishing' speed, and therefore distance? Try
a friends lighter bat and give it a fair chance. Take the time to know
what works for you. Don't swing 5 times and say, no, not for me. Give it
100 swings. See if your follow through seems more efficient. Note what is
happening with the ball.

What I am really trying to get accross to you is crucial to hitting
performance: you MUST have an efficient and complete follow through with
your swing. You must think acceleration through the ball. Go right
directly through the ball. Don't give up your swing the second you feel
the ball hit the bat ... in fact, that's when you have to swing hardest!
And give some thought to your bat weight. Make sure you give yourself
full chance to be as good as you can!

Ray DeMarini
DeMarini Sports