The belief that a baseball deserve to be hit further with a corked bat is wrong. But these illegal bats might still provide an unfair advantage.

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In June 2003, the civilization of baseball to be shocked through the revelation the Sammy Sosa that the Chicago Cubs, among the game’s best sluggers, had actually been caught using one illegal bat.

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So-called “corked” bats have actually been hollowed out and also filled v a lighter material, such together cork, to disguise the modification. They space illegal because they enable batters come hit the round further, or for this reason the anecdotal evidence suggestions. The inquiry for science, that course, is whether this effect is real: execute corked bats yes, really send balls further?

The reason bats space modified in this way is to do them lighter. This enables the hitter to swing lock faster. But if the goal is to offer the ball the highest possible velocity together it leaves the bat, lighter is not necessarily better. In reality the collision efficiency, the ratio of ball velocities before and also after being hit, is reduced for a lighter bat.

There is an additional factor, the so-called trampoline impact in which the surface of a hollowed the end bat deforms and reforms like a trampoline, thereby raising the elasticity the the collision. This is recognized to take place in hollow metal bats but whether this holds true for wooden ones is still open.

Whether a corked bat gives and unfair advantage boils down to just how these components even out under the the kind of round speeds that occur in a real game.

Today, we have response thanks to some intriguing occupational by Alan Nathan in ~ the university of Illinois and a few buddies. They’ve developed a cannon qualified of firing baseballs in a highly regulated fashion. They’ve provided their maker to send balls in ~ baseball bats modified in various ways and also then measured the speed at i beg your pardon the balls affect and rebound.

This they say has allowed them to resolve the matter.

They have actually two results. First, they say the trampoline effect is negligible in corked bats. In various other words, over there is no boost in the elasticity the the bat-ball collision.

Second, they investigated the profession off between greater bat speed and lower collision efficiency and found no benefit to a corked bat.

“We conclude that there is no benefit to corking a bat if the goal is because that the batted ball rate to be as big as possible, together is the case for a home run hitter,” lock say.

However, over there is a caveat. Gift able come swing the bat faster allows the hitter to delay the swing because that a vital extra fraction of a second. And also this may allow more accurate hits. “So, if corking may not allow a batter to hit the ball farther, it may well permit a batter come hit the ball solidly an ext often,” to speak Nathan and also co.

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That might be a significant effect. The study reflects that corked bats don’t enable balls to be hit any type of further but this has nothing to perform with the question of whether corked bats enable home runs to it is in hit much more often.

That’s something the will call for a closely designed examine to untangle. In the meantime, corked bats may still confer an advantage, simply not in the means everyone thought.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1009.2549: Corked Bats, Juiced Balls, and Humidors: The Physics the Cheating in Baseball