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 October 21, 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 October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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