Hitting a Major League Pitch
In the spring, we celebrate many wonders. Easter tops the list—to say the least. There's the fresh bloom of creation, with its dazzling colors and pulsating life. Then there's opening day of major league baseball. Like the thriving natural world, the splendor of baseball continues into the heat of summer.
A number of wonder-filled things happen during a major-league baseball game. Over the course of the season, we'll talk about a few in The Behemoth, all to suggest that the God of creation made a world in which we could do amazing things—like hitting a major-league pitch. It's not untypical for a pitcher to throw at 90 mph. Many throw into the high 90s, and once in a while a pitcher will break the 100-mph barrier. But say our ace is having an average day and can throw only 90 mph.
This means it takes the ball approximately .4 seconds to reach the batter. The batter has all of .2 seconds to think about that pitch before he needs to make a decision: is he going to swing or let the ball pass?
He needs to decide that in about .2 seconds because he's going to need another .2 seconds to swing at that ball. A lot can go wrong in that .2 second swing.
If it's a curve ball, the break in the curve happens in the last .10 sec of that pitch. So the curve ball would drop right under that bat as the batter swings.
If the batter has misestimated the speed of the pitch by 1.5 mph—say he estimated the pitch was coming at him at 91.5 mph or at 88.5 mph—then his swing would be late or early by a full foot of the ball. And the elevation of the pitch could be off by as much as an inch. A bat is at most 2.75 inches thick at the fattest part, and missing by an inch can cause you to miss ...
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