City-Data Forum Trigonometry of Pitching (ball, pitcher, Cubs)
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08-16-2013, 02:44 PM
 Location: Victoria TX 42,663 posts, read 74,231,932 times Reputation: 36087

I just noticed that Jake Westbrook is doing something I've never noticed before, although I occasionally look for it. As a right hander, he pitches with his toe on the first base edge of the rubber, which cuts down on the field a lefty pull hitter can hit into. It is 45 degrees between the line from rubber to plate and the right field foul line. In fact, Rizzo hit a ball that would have been a 3-tun homer, but it was just foul. Simple trigonometry (an oxymoron) tells us that if a 60 foot pitch is thrown from one foot further right, the ball at the same angle from the pitch trajectory will reach the 360 foot mark six feet further to the right. The ball was foul by less than six feet, so pitching from the corner of the rubber saved Westbrook a crooked number (never mind that they all eventually scored anyway). Left handed pull hitters constitute the maximum liability to a right handed pitcher, so Westbrook is using mathematics in his favor.

It is important, here, to consider that the batter does not hit a ball with reference to the field layout, but with reference to the trajectory of the pitched ball. To illustrate this clearly, let's move the pitching rubber so it is right on the first base line. It would be impossible for a batter to pull a fair ball. The further to the right the pitch comes from, the further to the right the ball will be hit, and the smaller the pull-side wedge of the field to hit into.

The Cubs pitcher, Arrieta, then takes the mound, and stands with his right heel at the center of the rubber, and toe on the left-field edge, two feet further to the batter's left. So in effect, to lefty hitters, moving the right field foul pole 12 feet to the right, and putting an additional 12 feet of fair territory in right field.

Last edited by jtur88; 08-16-2013 at 02:55 PM..