Bat Kinematics in Baseball: Implications for Ball Exit Velocity and Player Safety

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 University of Western Australia
  • 2 University of Western Australia
  • 3 Nanyang Tech University
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Ball exit velocity (BEV) was measured from 17 experienced baseball hitters using wood and metal bats of similar length and mass but different moments of inertia. This research was conducted in response to safety issues for defensive players related to high BEV from metal baseball bats reported in the literature. Our purpose was to determine whether metal bats, with their lower swing moment of inertia, produce a higher linear bat tip velocity than wooden bats swung by the same players. Analysis using high-speed videography indicated significant differences in the x-component of velocity for both the proximal (metal = 5.4 m s−1; wood = 3.9 m s−1) and distal ends of the bats (metal = 37.2 m s−1; wood = 35.2 m s−1), p < 0.01. The orientation of the bats with respect to the horizontal plane was also significantly more “square” 0.005 s prior to impact (270°) for the metal (264.3°) compared with the wood bat (251.5°), p < 0.01. Mean BEV from metal bats (44.3 m s−1) was higher than the 41 m s−1 velocity which corresponds to the minimum movement time for a pitcher to avoid a ball hit in his direction (Cassidy & Burton, 1989).

School of Human Movement and Exercise Science

Dept. of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, The University of Western Australia: Crawley, Perth, WA 6009, Australia

Physical Education and Sports Science Academic Group, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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