If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to face a fastball from the Dodger’s Clayton Kershaw then you’ve come to the right place, the legendary Dodgers Studio in Spectrum SportsNet, L.A. In this Virtually Rick we’re putting you on the batters box -– so batter up!
So, here’s our Batter, ready to make history.And here’s our pitcher on the mound, winding up and ready unleash thunder. The distance between the two is 60 feet, 6 inches.
It takes (0.03) 3 tenths of a second for the pitcher to release the ball. A regular MLB fastball travels at over 90 miles an hour!
Basically it’s a mini cannon ball. As it’s released, it’s spinning 20 times a second, that’s 1200 revolutions per minute. And the pitcher decides how it spins: upwards and it’ll stay in the air longer, downwards and it’ll drop fast. To the side and it’ll curve left or right. So he has a repertoire of fast balls, curve balls, sliders and change-ups. The pitcher is a loose cannon - literally!
Now the batter here has a lot to think about and time is not on his side. The moment the ball is released the clock is ticking. When should he swing? And if he’s off by even a microfraction -- then that makes the difference between a grounder, fly ball, foul ball or a home run.
Oh and by the way a ball traveling at 95 mph will reach you in (0.395) 395 milliseconds. So how fast is that? Well, it’s faster than you can blink or snap your fingers.
By the time the batter has registered the ball is coming it’s already traveled 15 of the 60 feet. And in the split second it takes to figure out how to deal with it, the ball has covered almost half the distance. In fact he has to start swinging before it reaches halfway, or it’ll be too late.
Leave it any longer and his eyes and arms won’t be able to work together fast enough and the ball will hit him and not the bat.
And there’s another thing; he’s got to hit a round ball with a round bat. Whose idea was that? And they say cricket is crazy? At least we got THAT right!
Each baseball bat has a sweet spot. Get it in the middle, and you’ll hit the ball squarely, compressing it to half its thickness for 1/1000th of a second. The speed at which they connect creates 800lbs of force which is like being hit by two dumpsters, 1.5 vending machines, or a motorcycle! Giving the ball the 100 mile-an-hour exit velocity it needs to get a home run!
So, quite simple really. Just hit the ball!
Perhaps this season when you yell your advice at the home plate, you’ll remember what we just discovered. It takes superhuman powers to face the fastest of balls and you can bet that if that happened to most of us: we’d choke, drop the bat and run!