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396 Milliseconds


March 9, 2022

I was watching a baseball show on Players TV. One segment was about the difference between a 92 mph four-seam fastball and 100 mph four-seam fastball. I haven’t verified the numbers they quoted so with that caveat:

A 100 mph fastball gets to the batter in 396 milliseconds. That is at the edge of what is humanly possible to react to.

That 100 mph fastball gets to the plate 54 milliseconds faster than a 92 mph fastball. in other words, when the 100 mph fastball reaches the plate, the 92 mph fastball is 4.5 feet in front of the plate. You’ve gone from the limit of what the brain can process to a range that is humanly possible to process — for the very gifted.

Taking into account only gravity, a pitch drops about 3 feet from leaving the pitcher‘s hand to reaching the plate. Due to backspin, a 92 mph fastball stays 10 inches higher — in other words only drops 26 inches. Also due to backspin a 100 mph fastball drops a few inches less than the 92 mph fastball. This explains why batters say a very fast pitch “rises” — it doesn’t drop as much as they expect.

The narrator made the point that if you’ve seen a 92 mph fastball all game and a reliever comes in the ninth inning throwing 100 mph, it is nearly impossible for the human mind to correctly make that adjustment.

The show featured interviews with Jeter, Aaron, Gibson, Kimberly, Morgan, Brett, Bench and some video of Bob Feller.

Very fun.

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