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  1. It sort of reminds me of the (urban legend?) soldiers who shoot themselves in the foot to get out of a horrible situation.

    Comment by Oliver — October 1, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  2. Maybe it’s not just about bat speed? I can imagine the batters might have better control over the bat while swinging, which of course is crucial.

    Comment by Bob — October 1, 2012 @ 10:57 am

  3. Good point about control. It also leads to be asked how aggressive the “weighted bat” swings were in the study. If they swung a weighted bat at max effort, and then swung a regular bat, I could see how fatigued muscles would slow the swing. But many batter’s DON’T swing at full effort in the on-deck circle…they simply go through their motion in slow motion, or sometimes a different motion altogether (Hunter Pence and Jason Heyward come to mind). It could also just be a timing mechanism. Most major league players don’t HAVE to swing at full power to hit the ball out, as long as their swing is timed appropriately to make contact at the right moment.

    Lot of other factors in play beyond “heavy bats slow swings”.

    Comment by Rob — October 1, 2012 @ 11:05 am

  4. Yes, how in the world could ‘scientific research’ show any such thing? Like saying ‘intentionally stepping over the foul line’ on your way off the field after an inning then slows you down running the bases given the extra effort involved.

    ‘Hothouse artifact’ was the phrase I recall (an experimental result that exists only in the experiment because it actually results from how the experiment was structured), though when I Google it now I don’t come up with anything.

    Comment by Richie — October 1, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  5. Is this trolling? It has to be trolling.

    It’s fairly simple to test such a thing – have a person swing a bat or bat-like object that weighs x, then have that person swing a bat or bat-like object that weighs x-y. The speed of said swings is fairly simple to measure.

    Comment by Domenic — October 1, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  6. I have seen people do it in the Navy, but without bullet. One guy got drunk and his wife slammed his hand in the door to break it and keep him from going.

    Comment by Jeff Zimmerman — October 1, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  7. I believe they can also acquire a structured (or steel) toe to combat this and protect against the fouling a ball off the toe.

    Comment by CS Yankee — October 1, 2012 @ 11:33 am

  8. So should they swing wiffle ball bats with holes in them to cut back on wind drag when they are on deck. Fwsh, fwsh, fwsh.

    Comment by Spit Ball — October 1, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  9. Howard has to be one of the unluckiest guys in baseball.

    Comment by Alex Kienholz — October 1, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  10. Hahahahaaa.

    Comment by Spoilt Victorian Child — October 1, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

  11. He’s getting paid $135M, so I guess it depends what you mean by unlucky.

    Comment by don — October 1, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

  12. He receives annually a large, (mostly) undeserved paycheck and he’s the unlucky one?

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — October 1, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  13. I think Franklin Gutierez would have something to say about that.

    Comment by D.t. — October 1, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  14. I guess I meant in regard to injury. I know his contract is ridiculous.

    Comment by Alex Kienholz — October 1, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

  15. He’s been pretty healthy most of his career. I think if anything he’s good at timing his injuries so he can recover in the offseason.

    Though I’m sure tearing the Achilles isn’t fun at all no matter when you do it.

    Comment by don — October 1, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

  16. Swinging a heavier bat makes your bat feel lighter and it makes you feel more powerful when you swing. Its a psychological thing. If people don’t understand certain intricacies of baseball, they shouldn’t research it to prove an uninformed point.

    Comment by A — October 1, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

  17. And the idea that those lab results of course transfer out into the live batters’ box because, ummm, well, the guys running the experiment were wearing scientifically official white lab coats, yeah that’s the ticket.

    ‘It happened in a lab, therefore it must be so.’ I guess I must’ve missed that specific class.

    Comment by Richie — October 1, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  18. Sorta what I said first. Except ‘A says:’ says it much better.

    Comment by Richie — October 1, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  19. Is your contention that because it happened in a lab it’s not useful? Because that seems like the same mistake on the other side. I’m not the arbiter of all baseball research, but if a baseball team believes this research, they should remove the doughnuts, like some have removed the long toss.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 1, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  20. I don’t understand this idea. People thought long toss worked for them, too, and then it was shown it didn’t (at least to the satisfaction of some teams). Another way: people think those phiten necklaces help, but they don’t. What if phiten was shown to give rashes or somehow have a negative effect on your muscles? You should allow them to continue doing it because they think it makes them better?

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 1, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  21. Thought this article would be about how the tow injury will slow his offseason conditioning and strengthening of his ankle injury. This is funnier tho.

    Comment by DD — October 1, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  22. I think he’s saying that the lab result only tells us that swinging heavy objects reduces bat speed. If the object of hitting was swinging a bat as fast as possible, then it’s very useful. However, swinging the heavy object could improve other aspects of hitting like bat control, or maybe others that we haven’t even thought of. So the lab result, although undisputedly true, might not tell us much about the game of baseball.

    Comment by drewcorb — October 1, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  23. EDIT: ‘it’ in the 3rd line refers to the lab result, not the act of swinging heavy objects.

    Comment by drewcorb — October 1, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  24. But either way, bat speed is important. And swinging a heavy bat right before you swing your real bat reduces bat speed. If you want to increase bat control, find a way to do it that doesn’t decrease your bat speed. Because bat speed is important!

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 1, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  25. No, but it’s a lot easier to see that the rash is a bad thing for health. So it’s probably not worth the presumed psychological benefit of feeling better. But it’s not as clear that swinging a heavy object has poor benefits on performance (except when dropping it on your foot). The reduction in bat speed might help guys who would otherwise swing out of their shoes.

    I’m open to the idea that swinging heavy objects is harmful to performance, but I just disagree that research has shown this.

    Comment by drewcorb — October 1, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  26. You don’t understand the idea that feeling powerful and confident can help a hitter?

    Comment by vivalajeter — October 1, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  27. Eh, questioning the particular research is of course fine. Seems pretty cut and dry to me, but if you think that there’s some confounding factor somewhere between the doughnut swing and the regular bat swing, that’s fine. But if there’s a cost (bat speed), even if there’s a benefit, I’m stopping my team from using them and looking to find that benefit in some other fashion. I’m arguing mostly that teams should be investigating this research and making decisions based on that research rather than how the players feel.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 1, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

  28. I agree that bat speed is important. But until you provide them with a way to increase control without decreasing bat speed, they will continue to use the donuts or lead pipes. All I’m saying is that the research is only convincing that it decreases bat speed, and it doesn’t offer a whole lot of insight into the complete process of hitting. Again, I’m not saying I could conduct better research, but that doesn’t mean I should be convinced by the current research.

    Comment by drewcorb — October 1, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  29. Of course I understand that. There are plenty of illegal drugs that would make a player feel confident at the plate, too. If my player/assets are hurting themselves doing something that they only thinks helps them, then I won’t let them do it. I’m mostly a labor guy, but organizations have to think about their players as long-term assets too.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 1, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  30. Whoops I basically said the exact same thing below in the thread. Sorry for clogging up space on here.

    Comment by drewcorb — October 1, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  31. By this logic every batter should use a light bat as to not fatigue the muscles unnecessarily? Maybe a study should be done with bats of ten different weights to see which one gets the best results? Ridiculous maybe? We shouldn’t over-analyze everything, this is a game palyed by humans, not machines.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — October 1, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

  32. i think freakonomics covered this in one of the early episodes. howard is far from alone in turning his back on science in favor of ritual comfort.

    Comment by jcxy — October 1, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  33. err, podcast episodes

    Comment by jcxy — October 1, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  34. At LA Tech we just finished a study with something called the flexi bat. trials showed that it increased bat speed, so we’re having our baseball team try it out.

    Comment by HPJoker — October 1, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  35. Ummmmm, I think you’re overreacting a bit. It’s notlike there is a rash of weighted pipe, broken toe injuries. It’s a fluke, no more so than the usual assortment of goofball injuries that happen every year like throwing out your back lifting luggage. That’s life, you can’t legislate all the randomness of life away

    Comment by anon — October 1, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

  36. your best bet is always just to get into the box and grip it and rip it.

    I’m sure the studies have something to do with muscles tiring. If you put a 10 rep of 225 benching, then go to do a 125, that 125 is going to be light…for the first 2 to 3 times. But if you could put up 125 30 times at first, if you do 225 first 10 times I bet you only get to 15 or 20 on the 125 reps.

    regardless, it’s all a waste of time. Get in the box and swing, let’s go.

    Comment by Bill — October 1, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  37. One might question whether decreased bat speed might actually help Howard beat the overshift.

    Comment by KM — October 1, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

  38. Swinging a heavy bat/donut/pipe in the on-deck circle is mainly to stretch the muscles and create a bit more flexibility. No one is swinging a weighted bat with full intention of mimicking the effort they put into a normal bat swing.

    And then when you do grab the real bat, it obviously feels much lighter and your primary swing mechanic muscles are warmed up and ready to contract in a lightning strike.

    Comment by Nate — October 1, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  39. Gotta agree with the masses on this one Eno. Your long toss example doesn’t hold. Teams banned it because it exacerbated the risk of injury. This is more akin to corking your bat or wearing phiten.

    Comment by jpg — October 1, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  40. I didn’t read the study referenced here (and most likely didn’t even read the WSJ article ABOUT the study), but I feel confident in using old-timey, untested baseball wisdom to refute a scientific study.

    Comment by Most commenters Here — October 1, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  41. thank you, Ryan

    Comment by payroll — October 1, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  42. For starters, they didn’t have “that person” test the premise at all, where “that person” is a major-league hitter. They tested college kids. To suppose that lessons learned from college players apply to major leaguers is like saying making a paper glider teaches you how to design an airplane: maybe, just maybe, some of the principles carry over, but many do not, and it’s a fool’s exercise to assert that they do. Of course, WSJ is very fond of this kind of fool’s exercise when talking about things other than Wall Street.

    If I’d ever submitted a paper for publication during my career as a scientist that was based on methodology as ludicrous as that cited in the WSJ article, I’d have been the laughing stock of my profession.

    Comment by Bad Bill — October 1, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

  43. not to mention that the article said that they only swung a certain bat in the on-deck circle. I make sure to swing a weighted bat/two bats and then use one to time the pitcher.

    Comment by Cooperstown2009 — October 1, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

  44. The point of the weighted instrument is to groove muscle memory. It is based on neurokinetics. It is a drill, much like golfers using weighted clubs to groove their swing.

    Comment by Rick Gordon — October 1, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

  45. I have to agree with the people who are disagreeing with the idea that the cited research is conclusive. I swing two bats in the on-deck circle to warm up my muscles and to ready them to generate force. I’ll most often switch to one bat and swing more to regain quickness before stepping up to the plate, but by then the heavier objects have already served their purpose.

    I think also it’s a common myth that bat speed alone dictates the force of contact. A loosely-held bat that’s not properly driven forward through the ball will rebound, leading to lower ball speed even with the same bat speed.

    Comment by Jon L. — October 2, 2012 @ 2:10 am

  46. It’s psychological to an extent, with the reality more owing to muscle memory. Any effect of swinging with a heavier object will effectively wear off after a handling a regulation-weight bat for a while after commencing with an AB. Unless the whole point of using a pipe or doughnut is to ‘unload’ on an early pitch. That doesn’t seem to me a viable plate approach unless the player is true free swinger.

    Think of a comparable experience: ever grasped and lifted a gallon jug expecting it to be full, but was actually empty? Your whole arm flies up in anticipation of bearing a greater weight. This is perhaps enough reason to believe the psychological “surprise” effect is actually diminished considering players know they are swinging more slowly than usual with a purposely heavier object.

    If players want to actually swing with more explosive power than they might consider dynamic weight training rather than perpetuating recipes from old wives’ cookbooks. Maybe Howard would benefit from that, at least. Lol.

    Comment by Bab — October 2, 2012 @ 3:13 am

  47. While I agree with your first paragraph, it’s still a silly practice. Get that flexibility without swinging a heavy object that might negatively affect bat speed.

    Your second point appears to be utter nonsense. The bat contacts the ball for a finite moment, the force is dictated by the bat speed, the weight of the bat, and where on the bat the ball is hit. THAT IS IT. Your follow-through or the way you are holding the bat has no role whatsoever after the point of contact. The “rebound” does not matter.

    Comment by Jesse — October 2, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  48. And yet golfers don’t swing weighted clubs right before every shot. As you said, it’s a drill. And like every other swing drill it should only be done in practice, and not at game time when you lose bat speed for it.

    Comment by Lan — December 1, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  49. Actually, the article referenced clearly advises against this as well. The best thing, according to the study, is for each player to “mimic in his warm-up what he will do in the gameā€”the same weight, the same motion.”

    Comment by TecJug — January 8, 2013 @ 11:03 am

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