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Imagining that Hitting A Baseball is not the Hardest Thing in Sport

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2 hours ago, scOtt said:

Hitting a golf ball is harder. Yes it's stationary but in baseball you can spray the ball 90 degrees and it's good. In golf you have to hit it farther and only about 2 or 3 degrees or you're in trouble, losing the tourney or a foursome bet.

Yea, this is why people who compare noise in other sports to golf during the swing are being silly. 

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19 hours ago, foxfield said:

Frobby, I just want to say that I am disappointed and very fearful that 2018 has done irreversible damage.  Hockey???

Now, I am all for friendly and philosophical debate.  For fun.  Were just talking here.  Ted Williams says hitting a baseball is the hardest thing in sports.  He's in the HOF, he was in WWII, He worked for Sears&Roebuck.  But ok, FrobbyORR, Hockey.  Your so smart Frobby, I think if you want to get into a statistical analysis here you disprove your own point.

To wit:

Your baseline winner is hockey because fewer than 10% of all shots on goal result in a score.  I am not really a hockey fan so I will simply take your word for the statement as fact.  IF we assume then that 10% of all shots on goal result in a score...then we should also accept as fact that 25% of at bats result in the batter hitting and reaching safely.

If these two statements are true you have proven Ted Williams correct that the hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a baseball.  I don't want to do a magic trick, but lets remember that 25% of at bats result in hits.  The problem is you refer to at bats.  Hitting a baseball is so difficult it requires multiple chances per statistical "chance".  If we assume that the average hitter sees 4 pitches an at bat, and the said at bats then result in the same number of hits, well then it is safe to say that the result on average success rate of an at bat (25%) is inflated and the actual success rate of hitters is now 6.25%.  6.25% is a lower success rate than 10%.  

Now I know, you actually said fewer than 10%.  I didn't look it up.  I am scientifically reasoning that if it was fewer than 6.25%, you would have said:  "Fewer than 7% of all shots on goal score.  I did the same thing saying at least 4 pitches.  But in fairness my very careful calculation uses exactly 4 pitches seen for all at bats that result in hits 25% of the time.  Of course Hockey does not present a gift of shots...you have to create them and take them.  And of course, baseball allows an opponent to stand 60ft 6 inches away.  I think however, that you have sold the game of baseball short.  It is the hardest thing to do in sports competition.

I am obviously ruling out track and field, and the like.  Otherwise, I would say running the Mile and a half at Churchill Downs is the most difficult thing.  

 

Hockey....Hockey!!!

Frobby said Hockey!

But seriously...you may be right.  I may be crazy.

Hockey.

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4 hours ago, BohKnowsBmore said:

Yea, this is why people who compare noise in other sports to golf during the swing are being silly. 

Noise never bothered me. It was someone moving in my peripheral vision. Sometimes on purpose I think...

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I would agree with soccer and hockey if the only way to get a goal was that your opponent, who was trying to make you miss making contact with the puck/ball had to deliver it to you and they were allowed to attempt to deceive you ... in hockey and soccer, you take a shot when you are in possession of the puck/ball, one of your teammates is attempting to give you the puck/ball in a way that optimizes your chances of success, or the puck/ball rebounds or drifts into a space that is convenient enough for you to make contact and attempt a shot.

To say the goalie, defense, etc. makes hockey/soccer goals more difficult is to ignore that pitchers are attempting to deceive you with the speed, placement, and/or trajectory of the ball ... that's also forgetting that defenders are out there ready to catch or throw you out, but the reason that defense doesn't belong in this argument is because we aren't talking about getting on base or hitting a homerun ... we are simply talking about successfully making contact so that the ball travels into fair territory ... i.e. a fair comparison would be striking the puck/ball so that it goes toward the goal and into it if there were no goalie or defenders in the way ... if you include defenders and goalies and only count a shot that goes into the goal with all things considered and a point is scored, then you need to include defenders in baseball and probably even scoring a run ...

Again, this argument is about successfully putting the ball into fair territory when a ML pitcher is throwing it at a high rate of speed and trying to deceive you with placement and trajectory of the pitch ... successfully putting the puck/ball however it is received on goal regardless of the outcome is the only fair comparison ... the slapshot is an interesting comparison, but again, more often than not that is a puck that is delivered to you be someone attempting to put it in a place that gives you the best chance to succeed compared to a baseball that is being thrown in a way to increase your chances of failure ... and a pass from a teammate is unlikely to be traveling at 95 mph ... 

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On 2/3/2019 at 12:58 PM, theocean said:

That's not really the point of the video. It's almost unbelievable that players can even make contact with a 95mph fastball because it takes longer to blink than the amount of time hitters have to register the image of the ball and then swing. It is amazing that the human body can even do it. 

While it might be more difficult to score a goal in soccer or hockey, the physical act of kicking a ball or hitting a puck that a player often has possession of isn't really pushing the limits of what the human body can do. The difficulty there is the skill - having yourself in the right position, knowing the goalie's tendencies, etc.

Hitting a fastball isn't that hard at all. Give a grown man a 35" bat at 2.5" diameter and he can make contact, or he can at least cover the plate to the point the ball hits the bat.

Hitting a fastball that may or may not be a strike, may or may not be a fastball, coming from slightly different angles with every pitcher, with solid contact, and avoiding 9 defenders so you can make it 90 feet before the ball gets there, and it's an entirely different conversation.

However, if you take all of the context into account, scoring a goal in soccer sure seems like the hardest thing to do. You have to earn your way down the pitch and usually score over, around or past several defenders and a goalie, often after having already run several miles in the previous hour. The goals against are low in that sport for a reason. It's difficult.

But hitting a baseball off a tee is harder than kicking a soccer ball placed on the ground in front of you. That's certainly true.

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16 minutes ago, LookinUp said:

Hitting a fastball isn't that hard at all. Give a grown man a 35" bat at 2.5" diameter and he can make contact, or he can at least cover the plate to the point the ball hits the bat.

Hitting a fastball that may or may not be a strike, may or may not be a fastball, coming from slightly different angles with every pitcher, with solid contact, and avoiding 9 defenders so you can make it 90 feet before the ball gets there, and it's an entirely different conversation.

However, if you take all of the context into account, scoring a goal in soccer sure seems like the hardest thing to do. You have to earn your way down the pitch and usually score over, around or past several defenders and a goalie, often after having already run several miles in the previous hour. The goals against are low in that sport for a reason. It's difficult.

But hitting a baseball off a tee is harder than kicking a soccer ball placed on the ground in front of you. That's certainly true.

I never thought that more conditioning was required to hit a baseball. Just a gift for doing it. 

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The title should be "Hitting a baseball with good contact for a hit". After all, most people can kick a ball. most of the time in the right direction.

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7 minutes ago, weams said:

I never thought that more conditioning was required to hit a baseball. Just a gift for doing it

So Bonds didn't become a better hitter when he (artificially) became more fit? Of course "conditioning" has a ton to do with it. 

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1 hour ago, LookinUp said:

So Bonds didn't become a better hitter when he (artificially) became more fit? Of course "conditioning" has a ton to do with it. 

It’s possible.  I think a few people can use their gift and when conditioned better can hit MLB pitching. I was more comparing what what was said about soccer. 

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Interesting discussion here. I don't feel like quoting everything, so I'll just say stuff. First off, I would argue against the Bonds "conditioning" argument as we're not talking about results after making contact, are we? Simply making contact doesn't require strength, it requires H/E coordination and quick reflexes, but not strength if all we're talking about is making contact and putting the ball in fair territory. Hell, I was never a great hitter, but I didn't really practice either. I am sure that I could step into a batting cage and crush a few, though. Hitting a straight fastball is a lot easier than hitting a curveball, though. There are a lot of possible variables here as to what "hitting a baseball" actually means beyond the obvious. Does the result matter? Does it have to be a hit or can it be a ground out to short? There's a world of difference between simply hitting a baseball and hitting a home run, for example.

With soccer, I didn't play it much, but did a few times in high school for short periods. It's quite hard to run full speed and kick the ball with any kind of velocity or accuracy. I would say it's much harder than hitting a baseball since both you and the ball are moving usually quite fast. It requires a great deal of physical dexterity and body control to time everything just right that, IMO, eclipses what is required for hitting a baseball. You're not only hitting a moving target, but you're also moving.

With hockey, I do watch more but never played. I see a lot of player interviews on this topic in a way and the advice players give for kids coming into the sport is to play multiple sports reason being that the H/E coordination required for hockey can be obtained from any sport; tennis, baseball, soccer and so on. Hockey players will also stand in a circle and kick around a hacky-sack quite often as well as a soccer ball before games. I would say that at least half of the shots made miss the net either from bad aim or from deflections so it seems that it's hard to shoot accurately and at high speeds.

I would also say the 10% stat may be a little high though I've not looked into it (I'm lazy), but the best players in the league are probably somewhere in the 12%-18% range. For example, Ovechkin leads the league in goals and he has a .175%. He got another one tonight, so it will probably go up a little. Most players don't score near that clip especially defensemen, so I would take a guess and say it's closer to maybe 7-8% on average. Players hit pucks out of the air all the time, though. Sometimes, passes do travel in the 90's if they are meant to be deflected out of the air and on goal, but they are slap shots more than they are passes though there are such things as slap passes. This is a common offensive strategy. You have to do all this while the other team is beating the shit out of you with body checks, stick work and generally physical play. I would say that also adds to the difficulty.

Like the quality of a pitcher may make it easier or harder to make contact, the quality of the goaltending introduces the same variable when it comes to scoring. The best goalies in the league will have save percentages in the .920-.930 range generally, but most are at least .900 though some backups are a little under that mark.

At any rate, hitting a baseball is more about H/E coordination, body control and reflexes/reaction time which can be honed in many sports. Hitting a home run is about all those things plus physical strength. I think comparing them to hitting a home run is a better comparison. Which is harder, who knows? I would guess they're all pretty hard and all require the same skills. A hockey stick is meant to flex when you shoot which also adds velocity to the shot, so some of the velocity is about the equipment, too. If you watch a slow mo of a one-timer, you notice the stick hits the ice and bends before hitting the puck, so it's a bit of a sling shot effect. You still have to be pretty strong to hit a 100mph slapper, though. That's not including being able to do it with any kind of accuracy.

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I said it before, I'll say it again.  Catching a pass over the middle when you know a safety is lurking.  Catching a football isn't hard, knowing you're about to get absolutely drilled AND catching a pass is another thing altogether.  

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18 hours ago, weams said:

It’s possible.  I think a few people can use their gift and when conditioned better can hit MLB pitching. I was more comparing what what was said about soccer. 

 

13 hours ago, Sessh said:

Interesting discussion here. I don't feel like quoting everything, so I'll just say stuff. First off, I would argue against the Bonds "conditioning" argument as we're not talking about results after making contact, are we?

I 100% believe that "conditioning" improves contact rates and results after contact. Swinging a bat is a physical act. Conditioning, targeted to a specific activity, will improve the performance of that physical activity. There's a reason baseball had a steroid era and it's not because a bunch of people with a gift started playing at the same time. It's because steroids improved baseball conditioning beyond what had previously been accomplished naturally. 

Similarly, if I played professional soccer (which I couldn't for 1,000 reasons), conditioning obviously matters there too. My ability to kick a ball after 5 minutes would be very different than after 80 minutes. This is true in every sport I can think of. Ever walk 18 holes? Conditioning doesn't just matter, it is one of the primary differentiators in sports. Hitting a baseball is not exempt from that fact.

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21 hours ago, LookinUp said:

But hitting a baseball off a tee is harder than kicking a soccer ball placed on the ground in front of you. That's certainly true.

The average swing-and-miss rate in T-ball makes Chris Davis look like Ichiro.

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