Nugget of Knowledge: Baseball bat physics

Pirate Willie Stargell used to swing a sledgehammer before batting

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It happens at every baseball game — the player about to bat warms up in the on-deck circle with a few practice swings.

And quite likely, the player has slipped a power sleeve on his bat — a weight, about a couple of pounds. The theory is that practicing with a heavier bat will allow you to swing your regular bat faster.

If you hit a fastball with a bat swinging 70 miles per hour, you’ll drive the ball 400 feet. If you’re swinging the bat at 80 miles per hour, the ball could go 450 feet.

Maybe that’s why Babe Ruth practiced swinging several bats at once. Willie Stargell of the Pirates swung a sledgehammer.

But, exercise physiologists at Louisiana Tech University have been studying this and they say that warming up with an overloaded bat may actually slow down batters. Putting a weight on your bat changes the bat’s balance and can alter the swing, especially in younger players.

The best advice they say? Swing your regular game bat in the on-deck circle.

Professional ball players are unlikely to change, though. They’re always looking for an edge and will do whatever they think helps.

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