The Mockingbird

Shameless Plug Time

with 5 comments

Did you know that hitters perform worse and worse the colder the weather is? Kind of puts the 1993 Jays having the 1st-2nd-3rd highest averages in the league even more impressive…Not that Skydome is the coldest park in the league, but it could have something to do with why the pitching staff usually performs better on the road as well as the “homerdome” effect when the roof is closed.

In other news, Dick Scott says that Travis Snider will start the year in AA this year, instead of high-A Dunedin and moving up later in the season (as was still planned a month ago). I think a 2009 arrival would still be premature because of the old service time argument, and they would have to trade Lind to make room and then sign a free agent DH for 2010. Just because he could be up by then doesn’t mean he should…

Written by halejon

March 4, 2008 at 2:44 am

5 Responses

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  1. The interesting thing about Rios’ promotion to the bigs is that he was actually hitting pretty crappily (sub .700 OPS) in AAA when he got the call. His 2004 was a pretty big waste of service time; hopefully something’s been learned there.

    johnny was

    March 4, 2008 at 1:51 pm

  2. Huh, I never noticed that before. So dumb. I know it was due to injury, but still. Oh well, at the very least I can say I’ve learned something because I would have been screaming bloody murder if Rios was sent back down for a year of seasoning in 2005.

    halejon

    March 4, 2008 at 4:44 pm

  3. John, nice article @ Baseball Digest. You’ve got my mind churning about the physics of the curveball and what sort of effect cold weather has on its delivery. Certainly, the evidence for lack of movement you present is a major factor.

    But I’m thinking the bats have something to do with the lack of production also. Certain woods have high coefficients of thermal expansion (particularly against the grain). And from what television tells me, bats are made at room temperature.

    I’m sure you’ve swung a bat and made contact with a ball in cold weather, only to find your hands ringing or the noise off the bat sound funny. My guess is that the cold weather causes a contraction in the wood along the grain. Consequently, you get a sweet spot that has less give and is denser than normal, requiring more precision and/or power to achieve results.
    (the solution: a bat furnace in the dugout… imagine that!)

    These are only preliminary thoughts.

    hroman

    March 4, 2008 at 4:49 pm

  4. For the curveball, I just realized cold air is denser, too…wouldn’t that tend to increase the Magnus effect?

    I would definitely buy that there’s something different with a cold bat. That would be amazing if you could show scientifically that warming them back up would help- I’m sure all teams would rush to install bat warmers (like the humidor). Heck, wouldn’t it be nicer on the hands if they were toasty, anyway?

    Wait…wouldn’t a slightly denser bat be a better thing, though? Just thinking back to the old corked bat thing and “give” is actually a bad thing for transferring power.

    halejon

    March 4, 2008 at 5:08 pm

  5. I think I just opened up Pandora’s Box.

    From the point of view of compression, sure you want a denser material to increase the strength of the wood (why Ash is likely preferred over softer woods). But, when the material is constant, the density change from temperature change is likely very minimal in affecting strength.

    Maybe “give” was the wrong choice of words.

    When you strike a ball, you want to be able to transfer as much of the kinetic energy of the baseball back into the baseball post-collision. When the bat vibrates, it means that some of the kinetic energy was lost as vibrational energy. If the bat has no elasticity, it’s not going to transfer any additional energy into the baseball, and moreover, it’s going to take tremendous strength to prevent a loss of energy due to vibrational transfer. An optimized elastic bat is going to change the moment of inertia while the bat is being swung, with the largest inertia just before impact, minimizing the loss from a transfer of energy.

    What might be more interesting (and something about which I know very little of) is what the temperature would do the center of percussion of a bat. My gut tells me that it bring it closer to the hands, effectively making it harder to contact a ball and reduce bat vibration after a collision.

    Maybe it’s time to crack out my physics textbooks. It’s also been a while since I last studied physics and am, admittedly, rusty. But I recall that the Mythbusters produced a test that showed a corked bat did not increase ball-speed or ball distance. What a corked bat does, however, is decrease bat weight, which increases bat speed. You then have to weigh that against the advantage a heavier bat gives to post-collision ball speed. (In fact, all regulation baseball bats used in the MLB are over the optimal weight for a bat that maximizes the bat-speed / bat-weight relationship).

    hroman

    March 4, 2008 at 7:23 pm


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