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Question about science being applied to a baseball check-swing

  1. Dec 20, 2016 #1
    I have noticed that baseball players trying to check a swing fail to do so a significant fraction of the time. It has occurred to me that there might be a better technique than just using the muscles that control the wrist to try to stop the angular momentum of the a swing. I would much appreciate any comments about the physics and/or physiology regarding the technique I describe below.

    For a right-handed batter, when the batter wants to check a swing he should loosen his grip on the bat with his right hand just enough so that the bat slides along his right hand, and as his right hand moves towards the head of the bat, the head of the bat will be controlled so that the check swing will be successful.

    For a left-handed batter, he would loosen his left hand in a similar fashion.

    BTW – If anyone is interested, I had a dialog with someone on a baseball forum about my idea, but the science aspects were not discussed.

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Interesting idea. One issue is that the baseball is whizzing by while you are scooting your hand out to stop the bat, so it puts your hand at risk of getting hit by the ball. But it would be worthwhile to experiment with it a bit. Have you tried it out at your local batting cage? :smile:
  4. Dec 20, 2016 #3
    Hi @berkeman:

    Thanks for your response. Unfortunately I have reached an age for which swinging a bat is no longer a pastime I can enjoy.

  5. Dec 20, 2016 #4
    So, the umpire gives the batter one strike for an attempted bunt.
  6. Dec 20, 2016 #5
    Hi @256bits:

    I am unable to understand why you think an umpire would consider what I described as a missed bunt attempt.

    A bunt attempt has the batter move his hands to prepare for the bunt attempt with no swing or swing preparation involved. A swing begins with a foot movement towards the mound (possible after a backward hitch of the bat) followed by moving the bat forward. The check of the swing occurs after a lot of bat movement. A bunt attempt has the hand movement coming first or simultaneously with a different kind of foot movement so the batter faces the mound.

  7. Dec 20, 2016 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    There is such a thing as a "drag bunt" that starts out as a swing. Or a "swinging bunt". :smile:

    It's probably worth reviewing the baseball rules to see what constitutes a check-swing.
  8. Dec 20, 2016 #7
    Hi @berkeman:

    I have been thinking about this risk for a while, and I have decided it to be quite unlikely. I do not recall ever seeing any check-swing attempt for an inside pitch, and I think the risk would only be present for an inside pitch. Most check swings occur on outside pitches, but I have seen them occasionally on high or low pitches.

  9. Dec 20, 2016 #8
    I had a strange accident. I posted a message and then tried to edit it. The result was multiple copies. I tried to replace all but one copy with a short apology, but then all the copies had just the apology. I will try to reconstruct the lost message in another post.
  10. Dec 20, 2016 #9
    Hi @berkeman:

    Although I understand that Wikipedia is not considered to be a reliable source, it’s discussion of “checked swing" seems quite complete and useful.

    In addition to "drag bunt" and "swinging bunt", there is also “fake bunt”.

    From https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/drag bunt
    a bunt in baseball made by a left-handed batter by trailing the bat while moving toward first base; broadly : a bunt made with the object of getting on base safely rather than sacrificing​
    This looks nothing like a swing.

    From http://www.thebaseballjournal.com/terminology/swinging-bunt-baseball-terminology/
    A swinging bunt is perhaps one of the most hated outcomes of a swing by a hitter but also one of the most grateful. A batter can swing as hard as he wants to and try to emulate Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth, but if he nicks just enough of the ball it will roll much further than it carries in the air.​
    This is a full swing which accidentally behaves like a bunt.

    From http://www.baseball101.com/skills/offense/fake-bunt-slash/
    Fake bunt slash technique (for both right-handed and left-handed hitters)​
    1. Square around (heel-toe pivot) after the pitcher has come to his set position and is starting to commit himself to home plate. Squaring around too early will alert the defense that possibly a fake bunt is in order. Most pitchers will have a fairly set pattern as to how long they remain in the set position. Squaring around just as the pitcher moves from his set position to throw to home plate is the ideal time.
    2. As the body is shifted into the heel-toe pivot approach, slide the top hand up the bat but not as far as the trademark area which is normally used. Be sure not to transfer your weight to the front leg as is normally done in the sacrifice bunt. You must look like you are setting up to bunt the ball to make the defense react to the bunted ball.
    3. Just as the pitcher is releasing the ball, slide the bottom hand up to the top hand and bring the bat back to its original hitting position.
    4. At the same time, the heel-toe pivot is simply reversed bringing the body back in the hitting position. Obviously, little time is allowed for a full inward rotation or full swing. However, a good, short, compact stroke can be achieved. It is important to try to drive the ball on the ground as the infield will most likely be somewhat out of position.
    5. The pitch must be a strike before swinging.
    This looks looks a bunt which turns into a swing. If this swing is checked, it will resemble a check-swing of a full swing.

    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  11. Dec 20, 2016 #10
    I see it as an interpretation from the umpire as to what is happening, so not 100% the law.
    The umpire could qualify the maneuver as a late bunt setup with an attempt to tap at the ball since the bat was moving.
    And since the umpire is always correct, the batter would get a strike count.

    One can hold the bat over the plate with no movement to poke at the ball, and if the pitch is outside the strike zone, the batter is awarded a ball. One reason why the batter does go into bunt position.

    Conversely, the same umpire could rule the swing with the hand movement as a checked swing on another occasion.

    There is nothing in the rules that state how a bunt has to be setup by the batter, but some technique is better than others.

    Of course that ( MLB rules ) is not what you are asking, but whether a technique of improved checked swing is possible.
    I don't have a bat with me for a tryout.

    If you check out the girl's softball, ( fastball ? ) they do a slap bunt where at the pitch release they step towards the pitcher, ease the grip on the bat to drop it to choke up, and try to slap it down to the ground. Hand movement there is possible in the time for the pitch to reach the plate, so in comparison it should be possible for baseball also.

    Need someone to try your technique out.
  12. Dec 20, 2016 #11
    Hi @256bits:

    I would be extremely pleased if someone would try the idea out. I got the impression that the person who discussed the idea with me at the baseball forum was some kind of coach, perhaps little league or high school. His response convinced me that it is unlikely that any coach would want to take the time to teach the technique to a team member and have that player practice to use it.

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