If you read to the end of the post, you'll understand how you
can help conquer this area of the field.
Before we go down the path that title could send us, let me explain...
When you select a baseball bat, the size of the bat matters. I know what you're thinking, "Obviously, the size of the bat matters." What most people don't realize, though, is that they can control that as a performance advantage. By understanding the swing weight that fits a player, you can manipulate the actual length and weight to help improve performance.
We have written a lot about swing weight, but in case you haven't read our previous blog posts, I will recap for you. The swing weight of a bat is essentially how heavy it feels while being swung. Each bat length, weight, and model has its own swing weight, and by manipulating the profile, length, or weight, you can alter the swing weight.
That said, with enough information at your disposal, you can manipulate the bat you select to potentially provide an advantage for yourself. The moment of the inertia (MOI) of the bat is its resistance to the incoming pitch (think about the difference between a sledgehammer and a broom stick... the sledgehammer has a much bigger MOI). Once we identify your optimal MOI through our bat fitting system, you can manipulate the variables to give you the best advantage.
One of the advantages you can build is the focus of this blog post... size. More specifically, length. If you look at a baseball bat as a third-class lever, you can start to see the advantage you can build. Third-class levers are velocity multipliers, so the greater the distance between the effort force and the load force, the greater bat speed you create at the point of the load force.
Think about it like this, if your hands are the point where the effort force is applied to the bat, and the sweet spot (we'll call it 5" from the end of the barrel) is where the preferred load force is, we want to maximize the distance between the two points without sacrificing swing quality. A critical component of that is knowing what swing weight you can handle, and using that as the foundation from which to manipulate the variables.
If you consider the knob of the bat as the pivot point (for the sake of the example, let's not get into the weeds with this), or fulcrum, and the effort force is applied at six inches up the handle from the knob (somewhere near the top hand... again, just an example), the difference of using a 34" or a 34.5" bat is just over a 2% difference in bat speed. That roughly 2% difference in bat speed, is a pretty big deal.
By manipulating the Batted Ball Speed (BBS) equation (above), using 0.2 for the collision efficiency (eA), we can see that an increase in the velocity of the bat is a big deal. Obviously, everyone knows this; that is why players train to increase bat speed. However, why not create additional speed by leveraging the size and shape of the bat? If a player generates a bat speed of 65 mph, and can increase that to 66.5 mph, that is an increase of about 1.8 mph in exit velocity (1.5 x 1.2). That increase of 1.8 mph in exit velocity equates to about 10-feet of distance at a 25-degree launch angle.
Essentially, maximizing the length advantage for yourself, by maximizing the length within your optimal swing weight, could potentially make every fly out to the warning track a home run!
Pretty crazy, eh?