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When they go low, we go high.

There are plenty of theories out there as to the nature of the home run spike lately, and I've got another one to pull on your coat about. Juiced ball notwithstanding, there’s also a legitimate evolution in batter approach and swing plane at play today that’s at least helping do some of the heavy lifting.

The dance between pitchers and hitters, we know, is a complex, ever-evolving relationship of adjustments and counter-adjustments. As the dawn of Big Data increasingly began to confirm that ground balls are the bee’s knees for limiting damage, pitchers quite naturally began to adjust by trying to coax as many of those suckers as possible. They’ve done so by increasingly attacking the lower portions of the zone (and beyond) over the past decade, attempting to sneak under barrels with plane and by manipulating the ball to put north-south action on it.

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You say you want a revolution, well all right.

The fly-ball revolution (aka, the air-ball revolution, aka the launch-angle revolution, aka the “Josh Donaldson said what?” revolution) is here. Sorta. While fly-ball rates are up overall in the past few years, they are not at historically high levels.

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The distance a fly ball travels depends to a large degree on which lot of baseballs it came from.

How Far Did That Fly Ball Travel (Redux)?

Alan Nathan#, Jeff Kensrud*, Lloyd Smith*, Eric Lang#

#Department of Physics, University of Illinois


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Does speed off the bat determine how far a fly ball goes?

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Alan Nathan is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After a long career doing things like measuring the electric and magnetic polarizabilities of the proton and studying the quark structure of nucleons, he now devotes his time and effort to the physics of baseball. He maintains an oft-visited website devoted to that subject: go.illinois.edu/physicsofbaseball.

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