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Lighter bat = More homers for The Babe?

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  • Lighter bat = More homers for The Babe?

    I was just thinking about various hitting theories, and one of the accepted tenants is that a lighter bat generates more power than a heavier one, because you can move a lighter bat quicker through the hitting zone then a heavy one.

    Taking this into consideration, I wonder if Babe Ruth would have hit even more home runs with a lighter bat? I think he used the heaviest bat in major league history (or one of the heaviest bats).

    What do you think? Would a lighter bat for the Babe equal more dingers?
    "Hey Mr. McGraw! Can I pitch to-day?"

  • #2
    Well my understanding is a heavier bat will move slower (when using the same force), but a lighter bat will give less power. So theres a balance to be had which is different for every player between bat speed and power.
    Obviously if you have a lighter bat you can get to balls quicker, but you have to use more power to get that ball to travel the same distance.

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    • #3
      I think it was Mickey Vernon who said that you can get the same result with timing and a heavier bat. With a heavier bat you'd have to cut down to a compact swing which should go a long ways towards shorter slumps.

      Said Babe: "My theory is the bigger the bat the faster the ball will travel."

      Ruth used a long 52 ounce bat. Hack Miller used a 65 ounce bat on occasion.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Victory Faust View Post
        I was just thinking about various hitting theories, and one of the accepted tenants is that a lighter bat generates more power than a heavier one, because you can move a lighter bat quicker through the hitting zone then a heavy one.
        It depends on the relative differences in "weight" and "bat speed" between the heavier bat and lighter bat. In physics terms we want to look at the mass of the bat and the velocity of the part of the bat to impacts the baseball. We can look at the "impulse" of the baseball. Impulse is basically the change in momentum of an object caused by the impact from another object.

        I= dp


        I= Impluse
        dp=change in momentum

        where p = mass x velocity.

        Now a ligher bat would have an increased velocity but since the mass would be lower the change in momentum may be slim or even less than with the heavier bat.
        Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 03-30-2008, 08:24 PM.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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        • #5
          It would certanly have to be a balance, how light are we talking about. Maybe Ruth with a bat between 38-42 does well. Can't sacrifice too much weight to gain more bat speed.

          Ruth did not use 50 Oz bats much, early in his career. Some changes 46-44 Oz and some in the 30+ Oz range over his career.

          2006, two of his bats were up for auction and sold.

          One he used from 1918-1921---40 Oz length 36"
          This one was sold for $38,837.50

          One he used from 1921-1931, don't get that long time period.
          33.75 Oz Length 33.75 Sold for $16,132.50
          Low value on this one because of wear, spike indentations and bruised barrel from ball impact.
          Also points lost due to odd weight and length. Weight loss due to natural aging process of wood.

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          • #6
            Some others.
            Cobb and Dimaggio --42 Oz.
            Williams Musial ------31-34
            Maris 1961--------- 33 varied but 33 used most often.

            Should be noted that many hitters including the above have used different weights at times.

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            • #7
              Two bats I noted in my earlier post (# 5) sold at auction.
              First from 1918-1921---40 Oz Length 36"
              Second 1921-1931-----33.60 Oz L 33.75
              Attached Files
              Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-31-2008, 04:40 AM.

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              • #8
                Also noted on bat info at these auctions. A Ruth trademark, the bat bruised on the left side of the barrel showing that he batted with the label down, "not as it is commonly taught" their words.

                What they mean by "commonly taught". Don't know about todays bats probably the same teaching. As kids we were always told to keep the lable up to keep the grain horzontal less chance of cracking the bat. Also less "give" to the bat when contacting the ball, stiffer with the label up...or down.

                So Ruth was following the teaching only with the label down instead of up. Makes no difference as long as the lable is up or down, your going with the grain.
                Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-31-2008, 05:03 AM.

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                • #9
                  The only detailed attempt I have read to settle on an ideal bat weight for maximum distance indicated that a bat between 40 and 50 ounces would hit a 90mph fastball the maximum distance when swung by a typical strong major leaguer. Given that Ruth was bigger and stronger than most, he might have been at the upper end of that range. That book also claimed that somebody convinced Maris to try using something like a 42 oz bat in BP and compare the length of his drives to shots hit with his normal low 30s bat. Roger hit the ball somewhat farther, on average, with the heavy bat, but he sure didn't switch over.
                  Obviously, the heavier bat is going to be more difficult to control and result in a slower (though not less powerful) swing. Ruth was probably giving up some degree of being able to adjust to a pitch that fooled him, but maybe gaining a few feet on the ball when he guessed right really met it. I can't imagine how a lighter bat would have made a LOT of difference to Ruth...honestly, how much better could he have been?!?!?
                  Who knows how accurate that study was...the author was a learned physicist and everything he did made sense to me, but he was also making a lot of assumptions along the way. Interestingly, he also calculated that the optimal bat weight for a slow pitch hitter of "normal" size was about 20 oz...I've never seen a bat that light, but even the 250-300 lb distance hitters of today seem to favor 26-30 oz bats, as opposed to the 38 oz ones that were common when I started playing. I'm about 220 and favor 26 oz bats...but can't say that my distance is knocking anybody's socks off!
                  Last edited by hellborn; 03-31-2008, 06:20 AM. Reason: "slow pitcher"...huh???
                  "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by hellborn View Post
                    The only detailed attempt I have read to settle on an ideal bat weight for maximum distance indicated that a bat between 40 and 50 ounces would hit a 90mph fastball the maximum distance when swung by a typical strong major leaguer. Given that Ruth was bigger and stronger than most, he might have been at the upper end of that range. That book also claimed that somebody convinced Maris to try using something like a 42 oz bat in BP and compare the length of his drives to shots hit with his normal low 30s bat. Roger hit the ball somewhat farther, on average, with the heavy bat, but he sure didn't switch over. Obviously, the heavier bat is going to be more difficult to control and result in a slower (though not less powerful) swing. Ruth was probably giving up some degree of being able to adjust to a pitch that fooled him, but maybe gaining a few feet on the ball when he guessed right really met it. I can't imagine how a lighter bat would have made a LOT of difference to Ruth...honestly, how much better could he have been?!?!?
                    Who knows how accurate that study was...the author was a learned physicist and everything he did made sense to me, but he was also making a lot of assumptions along the way. Interestingly, he also calculated that the optimal bat weight for a slow pitcher hitter of "normal" size was about 20 oz...I've never seen a bat that light, but even the 250-300 lb distance hitters of today seem to favor 26-30 oz bats, as opposed to the 38 oz ones that were common when I started playing. I'm about 220 and favor 26 oz bats...but can't say that my distance is knocking anybody's socks off!

                    I did read that article a while back. Although he did hit some drives a bit farther I could understand why he stuck with his old lighter bat. This experiment if we can call it that was under control circumstances. Like batting practice, he was aware of what the pitch would be and I'm sure also the location. To use the heavier bat in regular games not the same, fooled on some pitches, a problem catching up with the ball.

                    I agree I doubt Ruth could have more success with a lighter bat, meaning a good deal lighter.

                    That 26 seems extremely light for MLB. I do recall some from years ago using 29 ounce bats but they were very low in numbers.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sorry, I typed "slower pitcher" instead of "slow pitch"...I was talking about softball, with the ball coming in with very little velocity. 26oz is usually the lowest weight available for slow pitch bats in adult lengths (which is pretty much 34"), but I have seen 24oz and 25oz on occasion from companies other than the major ones.
                      I think even Tony Gwynn's bats were over 30oz! I had a few wood bats that were probably well under 30oz at 34", but they didn't even hold up to self toss very well...they mostly snapped like balsa even against BP pitching.
                      "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Considering the depth of current pitching staffs and specialized pitching roles and fresher arms throwing all out, would Ruth be successful with such a heavy bat today? And if your conclusion is "of course Ruth is a God silly question," than why don't current players - many that are bigger and stronger than Ruth ever was - use the big sticks?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                          It depends on the relative differences in "weight" and "bat speed" between the heavier bat and lighter bat. In physics terms we want to look at the mass of the bat and the velocity of the part of the bat to impacts the baseball. We can look at the "impulse" of the baseball. Impulse is basically the change in momentum of an object caused by the impact from another object.

                          I= dp


                          I= Impluse
                          dp=change in momentum

                          where p = mass x velocity.

                          Now a ligher bat would have an increased velocity but since the mass would be lower the change in momentum may be slim or even less than with the heavier bat.
                          Most posts I see regarding baseball physics mention momentum, which is mass x velocity. But few mention energy, or more specifically kinetic energy. The energy available to launch a baseball depends on the kinetic energy of the objects (ball and bat) involved in the collision.

                          kinetic energy = 1/2 mass * velocity squared

                          A 1% increase in velocity is equivalent to a 2.01% increase in mass. A 5% increase in velocity is equivalent to a 10.25% increase in mass. If lowering the weight of the bat by 5% allows a hitter to swing it 5% faster he comes out ahead in power.

                          Of course, the collision itself is more complex and energy is lost in various ways. It is important to strike the ball near the "sweet spot" of a wooden bat, where less energy is lost due to flexure, twisting, and vibration. Aluminum bats are much more forgiving in this regard.

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                          • #14
                            The simplest way to analyze collisions is through momentum. Energy is not an invalid concept there, but more difficult to apply.

                            Aluminum/composite is not more effective than wood because it flexes less, but because it is more elastic. This is why the thin multi-wall bats work well...they flex a lot, but then flex back quickly enough to propel the ball further. Even if handle flex is elastic, it may not end up returning much to the ball, due to the higher mechanical time constant and brief time the ball is on the bat.
                            "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Brian McKenna View Post
                              Considering the depth of current pitching staffs and specialized pitching roles and fresher arms throwing all out, would Ruth be successful with such a heavy bat today? And if your conclusion is "of course Ruth is a God silly question," than why don't current players - many that are bigger and stronger than Ruth ever was - use the big sticks?
                              I think Ruth would use a lighter bat in todays game, but not much lighter. He did not use 50+ ounce bats like you may have heard often, for a short period, very short. At times 44 some at 40 and a few sold at auction that were under 40 ounces.

                              As for todays strongmen, why not heavier bats, why would they when it's not neccessary no longer in vogue. The trend to the lighter bats by the big guys and even more hitters came in the 1950s and it's still that way.

                              As for strength you may be underestimating Ruth. He was at 215-220+ in much of his career, thats big. He was really hugh upper body. I may get some funny come backs on the hugh upper body but you can't have fat shoulders. We have proof of his strength he hit some balls back then that would be tape measure jobs today and quite a number at that. Maybe not all around strength because players realize the value of working out today. We're only talking about one short burst of energy to bring the bat around.
                              Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-31-2008, 08:45 AM.

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