Numerical Analysis of Maximal Bat Performance in Baseball

Rochelle Nicholls, K.S. Miller, Bruce Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Metal baseball bats have been experimentally demonstrated to produce higher ball exit velocity (BEV) than wooden bats. In the United States, all bats are subject to BEV tests using hitting machines that rotate the bat in a horizontal plane. In this paper, a model of bat-ball impact was developed based on 3-D translational and rotational kinematics of a swing performed by high-level players. The model was designed to simulate the maximal performance of specific models of a wooden bat and a metal bat when swung by a player, and included material properties and kinematics specific to each bat. Impact dynamics were quantified using the finite element method (ANSYS/LSDYNA, version 6.1). Maximum BEV from both a metal (61.5 m/s) and a wooden (50.9 m/s) bat exceeded the 43.1 m/s threshold by which bats are certified as appropriate for commercial sale. The lower BEV from the wooden bat was attributed to a lower pre-impact bat linear velocity, and a more oblique impact that resulted in a greater proportion of BEV being lost to lateral and vertical motion. The results demonstrate the importance of factoring bat linear velocity and spatial orientation into tests of maximal bat performance, and have implications for the design of metal baseball bats. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1001-1009
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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