Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Baseball Diamonds: The Lefthander's Best Friend

Date:
July 8, 2008
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
Baseball diamonds are a left-hander's best friend. That's because the game was designed to make a lefty the "Natural," according to a professor of engineering and uber baseball fan. The professor is a mechanical engineer who specializes in aircraft and helicopter engineering and has a different approach to viewing America's Favorite Pastime.

Baseball diamonds are a left-hander's best friend. That's because the game was designed to make a lefty the "Natural."
Credit: Image courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis

Baseball diamonds are a left-hander's best friend. That's because the game was designed to make a lefty the "Natural," according to David A. Peters, Ph.D., the McDonnell Douglas Professor of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and όber baseball fan. Peters is a mechanical engineer who specializes in aircraft and helicopter engineering and has a different approach to viewing America's Favorite Pastime.

First of all, some numbers.

"Ninety percent of the human population is right-handed, but in baseball 25 percent of the players, both pitchers, and hitters, are left-handed," said Peters, a devoted St. Louis Cardinal fan who attended "Stan the Man's" last ball game at Sportsman's Park in 1963. "There is a premium on lefthanders for a number of reasons. For starters, take seeing the ball.

"A right-handed batter facing a right-handed pitcher actually has to pick up the ball visually as it comes from behind his (the batter's) left shoulder. The left-handed batter facing the right-handed pitcher has the ball coming to him, so he has a much clearer view of pitches."

Then, Peters says, consider the batter's box. After a right-hander connects with a ball, his momentum spins him toward the third-base side and he must regroup to take even his first step toward first base. In contrast, the left-hander's momentum carries him directly toward first.

"The left-handed batter has a five-foot advantage over the right-handed batter," says Peters. "And that means the lefty travels the 90 feet to first roughly one-sixth of a second faster than the righty. That translates to more base hits for the left-hander, whether singles or extra base hits because lefties are getting to the bases more quickly."

Even Jim Thome and Jason Giambi?

The left-handed pitcher generally is much more difficult to steal off, as, from his stretch, he peers directly at the runner; the right-hander must look over his shoulder and wheel to first base, giving the runner more of a warning of the pitcher's intent.

Positions advantageous to southpaws are pitching, first base and right field. For the positions, the advantage is the favorable angles lefties get, enabling them to throw the ball more quickly across the diamond to second, third and home. One position a lefty rarely plays is catcher, for the obvious reason that it is difficult for a southpaw catcher to throw over so many right-hand batters.

"It wasn't all that long ago when first basemen were predominantly left-handed and most right fielders were left-handed," Peters says. "That has changed, at least since the late sixties."

There's even a bias toward the lefthander in ballpark design. Right field in most parks (just think of Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park) is usually shorter than left field because of the preponderance of right-handed hitters.

While traditional thinking holds that the right-handed batter has the advantage over the left-handed pitcher, because the breaking ball goes into the batter's power threshold, it's not always the case, says Peters. And it's that familiarity thing again.

"Because only 10 percent of the population is left-handed, kids grow up and mature in baseball seeing a left-hander just 10 percent of the time they bat," he says. "So, it can be hard for both lefties and righties to face a southpaw. It's why some left-handed batters look dreadful matched against a lefty."

Some batters don't like facing southpaws because their ball is purported to have a natural movement away from a right-hander and into a lefty.

"There's no scientific evidence to support this, but I wonder if lefties get that movement from learning to write in a right-hander's world," Peters says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "Baseball Diamonds: The Lefthander's Best Friend." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080707174020.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2008, July 8). Baseball Diamonds: The Lefthander's Best Friend. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080707174020.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "Baseball Diamonds: The Lefthander's Best Friend." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080707174020.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) — The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) — President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) — Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins