How Much Force Is Applied When Bat Meets Ball


NORTH SHORE, PGH – Baseball can be looked at in one of two ways, a simple game or a complex game.

In the simplified version you run, you throw, you hit and you catch. In the process, you get a little dirt or grass on your uniform, chew some bubblegum and sunflower seeds and enjoy your day on the field.

In the complex version you see baseball through the prism of physics and geometry, in which terms like coefficient of restitution (COR), moment of impact (MOI), inertia, angular momentum and tangential velocity are the norm.

At Diamond Kinetics, we have one foot resting on both sides. We like it simple and we like it complex. Ultimately we try to make the complex simple and the simple not too complex.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at how much force is applied to a baseball during the act of throwing a ball and hitting a pitch.

The above image of Mark McGwire shows him connecting on the 70th home run of his historical 1998 season in which he broke the all-time record for home runs in a season (which was later toppled by Barry Bonds).

During that at-bat, McGwire swung a 35 oz. bat at 85 mph toward a pitch that was traveling at 90 mph. When the bat made contact with the ball it exerted around 8,000 pounds of force, sending the ball in the opposite direction at about 110 mph.

Out of all those numbers: 35 oz. bat, 85 mph swing speed, 90 mph pitch, 110 mph exit velocity, 8,000 pounds of force, we will be focusing on the last number in that set, the 8,000 pounds of force.

It got us thinking, what are some real world equivalents of McGwire crushing a baseball into the upper deck of Busch Stadium.

So we did a little research and put together a little graphic as to how force is applied through the jaws of a T-Rex, Nile Crocodile, Great White Shark and African Lion.

As we can see, the T-Rex is the runaway winner, applying 13,000 pounds of force with his bite but as we go down the line one gets an idea as to how much force is being applied when a large baseball bat bat is swung at a high speed at a pitch that is traveling equally as fast. To the credit of these animals, they are generating the force all on their own, akin to hitting the ball off a tee. But nevertheless, we can see just how powerful the moment is when bat meets ball in the game of baseball.

Pounds Of Force


*McGwire image and explanation courtesy of Dr. Daniel Russell

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