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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

STL Today: Albert vs. The Babe - Scientifically speaking

Weee…I’m dumping SABR and joining the Jean Piaget Society!

Could science measure El Hombre’s greatness? Does it match the Bambino’s?

Researchers put Pujols through a range of tests, from finger tapping to visual responses to bat speed. He smoked them. And while the comparison has limitations, his results were strikingly similar to the Babe’s.

In 1921, psychologists at Columbia University put the Hall of Fame hitter and pitcher through scientific tests to try to determine what made him so great. The New York Times heralded the results, proclaiming George Herman “Babe” Ruth “supernormal.” He had faster than average reflexes, steady nerves, and superior sight and hearing.

Repoz Posted: August 22, 2006 at 10:54 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, hall of fame, yankees

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 22, 2006 at 11:23 AM (#2151620)
How does superior hearing help?
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 22, 2006 at 12:00 PM (#2151631)
Have other professional atheletes been given these tests? If not, then Matt Stairs may be equally "superhuman," as might many surgeons, construction workers, and musicians. I guarantee you that the above almost all have faster-than-average reflexes, at least.

As a musician myself, I should be able to figure out how superior hearing would help a baseball player. It's possible that picking up involuntary grunts from the pitcher might help him to tell what type of pitch is coming, but that seems pretty far-fetched. In "clutch" situations, he might be able to hear the conversation between the pitcher and catcher, but it's too far away for that to be likely. Superior hearing could certainly help defensively, since balls hit at different angles and with different degrees of authority sound different.
   3. Biscuit_pants Posted: August 22, 2006 at 12:43 PM (#2151659)
How does superior hearing help?
Have you not seen Spiderman?
   4. Bangkok9 eschews 1 from Column A Posted: August 22, 2006 at 12:46 PM (#2151662)
Does a 4-seam fastball make a different sound than a 2-seamer?
   5. Cabbage Posted: August 22, 2006 at 12:51 PM (#2151666)
Weren't the steady nerves thanks to the relaxing smoothness of Chesterfield cigrarettes?
   6. bunyon Posted: August 22, 2006 at 12:57 PM (#2151669)
Does a 4-seam fastball make a different sound than a 2-seamer?

Yes, as does a curveball differ from a fastball. I'm not sure if a human could detect the difference in a loud stadium in enough time to help him in an at-bat. But I'm sure they make different sounds.

Also, I've read somewhere that outfielders use the crack of the bat to get jumps on fly balls. That if you plug their ears range and first-step quickness decrease significantly. can't recall the citation.

And as pointed out, the key isn't is Pujols different than an "average" person - of course he is. The key is, is he different than a lesser hitter; could that difference be measured in the scouting/signing process?
   7. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: August 22, 2006 at 01:25 PM (#2151696)
Also, I've read somewhere that outfielders use the crack of the bat to get jumps on fly balls.

Joe DiMaggio claimed he was off and running <u>before</u> it was hit. You are free to extrapolate this nonsense to any other ridiculous claims.
   8. Belfry Bob Posted: August 22, 2006 at 01:43 PM (#2151723)
He had faster than average reflexes, steady nerves, and superior sight and hearing.

But, alas, he could not see through lead.
   9. Repoz Posted: August 22, 2006 at 01:53 PM (#2151737)
Joe DiMaggio claimed he was off and running before it was hit

Marilyn also complained about this...
   10. Backlasher Posted: August 22, 2006 at 02:01 PM (#2151747)
He had faster than average reflexes, steady nerves, and superior sight and hearing.


What were his SAT scores?
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 22, 2006 at 02:07 PM (#2151758)
Doc:

Ya' know, I understand that the comment reads as hyperbole. But I have saved video of outfield and infield plays where if you watch them in slow-motion it sure SEEMS like the defensive player is anticipating where the ball is going.

No DiMaggio. But I have a Gary Pettis where I would SWEAR the little guy is moving right before the ball has left the players bat.

I know. Crazy talk.
   12. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: August 22, 2006 at 02:09 PM (#2151765)
Pooh pooh this stuff if you'd like, but I think that this is the next wave of sabermetrics.
   13. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: August 22, 2006 at 02:09 PM (#2151766)
Marilyn also complained about this...

Arthur Miller's claim that he knew what was going to be on the page before the typewriter key struck the platen were more believable, although for Marilyn no more satisfying (apparently).
   14. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: August 22, 2006 at 02:17 PM (#2151777)
But I have a Gary Pettis where I would SWEAR the little guy is moving right before the ball has left the players bat.

HW, I believe they <u>did</u> it. As an old CF myself, I did it. You could even usually be correct; hitters pull the ball, it's what they do, and on an inside pitch, they'll pull it more, on an outside pitch, they pull it less. But to pretend to some mystical knowledge...let's just say you're pretty likely to be a mile from an inside-outed Texas Leaguer that you might have caught if you'd not anticipated otherwise. But nobody will blame you for not getting to it, sometimes they just drop, right?
   15. Levi Stahl Posted: August 22, 2006 at 02:34 PM (#2151795)
I'm sure outfielders frequently jump before the ball is hit--I'm just an above-average softball outfielder, and I find myself jumping one way or the other depending on pitch location. Now, granted, softball's a lot easier to gauge, but I figure that if I can make a good guess before contact, even in softball, then a real outfielder probably can make a good guess in baseball.
   16. Backlasher Posted: August 22, 2006 at 02:47 PM (#2151816)
Pooh pooh this stuff if you'd like, but I think that this is the next wave of sabermetrics.


Some of this stuff may be useful in an analytic context. I don't the people that use and refine it will call it sabermetrics.

Its a slightly more intricate system than what is usually done at combines and camps. Its reasonable that there is a correlation of MLB ready players between some measurement of visual accuity and OBP.

I'm sure that somebody will crunch the numbers of this obvious statement and proclaim it as a discovery some day. They may very well forget that the correlation exists with people pre-selected for MLB, and that will lead us down the next ugly road of: "That GM is an idiot, doesn't he know that Gary Slowwrists has a 171 ocular score. When will GMs learn to value vision"

Also, I'm sure that somewhere a college kid will tell us that "players eyesite does not affect their ability to hit a baseball" and back it up with a two years worth of data that doesn't support the conclusion.

Ya' know, I understand that the comment reads as hyperbole. But I have saved video of outfield and infield plays where if you watch them in slow-motion it sure SEEMS like the defensive player is anticipating where the ball is going.

No DiMaggio. But I have a Gary Pettis where I would SWEAR the little guy is moving right before the ball has left the players bat.

I know. Crazy talk.


I don't think its crazy talk because the fielder can see the pitched ball, and the start of the swing. Such visual triggers would lead to conditioned reactions.

Now the question is do you see them moving alot just from the pitching release point, or do you merely see them start to shift their weight at the moment pre-contact.

I would think if someone were literally "running" before the contact event, they are going to misplay a lot of balls. If they are just starting to fire their muscles, it would not necessarily show up as misplays. First, they probably are right a large amount of time. When they are right its the difference in Andruw Jones catching a flyball, Jim Edmonds diving around like Greg Luganis, and Coco Crisp playing it on a hop. And even when they are wrong, it would not look like an error, it just would be a ball that looked like a hit off the bat anyway.
   17. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: August 22, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2151835)
"players eyesite does not affect their ability to hit a baseball"

LOL. Syd Thrift knew that wasn't true. Dollar Sign on the Muscle discussed this in a chapter, too. I hope that no Billy Bahaus type comes by and brings that up.
   18. AuntBea Posted: August 22, 2006 at 03:09 PM (#2151840)
players eyesite does not affect their ability to hit a baseball

Perhaps. Perhaps not. But studies have shown that players with abnormal eyesites have shown significantly less ability to score off the field.

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