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Japanese slugger attempts to hit 186 mph fastball
August 29, 2014 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Former Nippon Pro Baseball home-run king Takashi Yamasaki tries to hit a 186 mph (300 km/hour) fastball from a pitching machine. Skip to 3:29 for the fun part. (SLYT, Japanese)
posted by DirtyOldTown (56 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's amazing he's willing to stand in there without a batting helmet on.
posted by chavenet at 8:55 AM on August 29 [5 favorites]


Now he knows what a 95mph fastball looks like to us mere mortals.
posted by Mr. X at 8:56 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I think he could hit it if it started further away. That fast from that close gives you no time to respond.
posted by empath at 8:57 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I think he could hit it if it started further away. That fast from that close gives you no time to respond.

But, then it wouldn't be like trying to hit a 300kmh fastball. The distance from plate to mound is all part of the test.

The more math-enabled MeFites are welcome to calculate how far back you'd have to move the pitching gun in order for air resistance to bring-down the ball speed to a more reasonable 90-95mph.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:02 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Now he knows what a 95mph fastball looks like to us mere mortals.


John Grisham wrote a short piece about the single game he played on his college baseball team. He went to the plate, watched three 90 mph fastballs scream by, then walked back to the dugout and quit, saying, "I don't want to do that ever again."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:02 AM on August 29 [11 favorites]


I would think if he spent some time with it, he could probably figure out how to time it so that he starts his swing while the fake pitcher display thingie is still in its windup, and eventually get his bat on the ball. Of course he'd be going against decades of training to do that, but since the pitch location is going to be pretty predictable, I don't think he'd actually have to *see* the pitch to make contact.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:03 AM on August 29


It's amazing he's willing to stand in there without a batting helmet on.

I was pretty surprised by that, too. You never know when the machine will decide to brush you back with a little chin music.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:04 AM on August 29 [12 favorites]


Whats the best case scenario here? You bunt, and the bat gets destroyed, splinters apart, and destroys your face?
posted by pwnguin at 9:08 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


He's standing too close! :)

Hitting a 95 mph fastball is extremely difficult, and edges up against the very limit of human reaction time. It's 60 feet from the pitcher to the batter. It takes just four-tenths of a second for the ball to travel that distance. The batter needs to start swinging their bat almost at the moment the ball leaves the pitcher's hand in order to connect. And then they also need to guide the bat while swinging. Not easy.

Most major league batters take their cues from the pitcher's stance and body movements, in order to make that bat on ball connection. Even though he knows just how fast the pitch will be, he's working at a disadvantage several times over. The machine is whipping that ball over the plate so fast he can't react quickly enough to connect.
posted by zarq at 9:09 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


But, then it wouldn't be like trying to hit a 300kmh fastball. The distance from plate to mound is all part of the test.

The more math-enabled MeFites are welcome to calculate how far back you'd have to move the pitching gun in order for air resistance to bring-down the ball speed to a more reasonable 90-95mph.


Not what I'm saying at all.

If you move it back to 120 feet, it'll still hit the plate at (roughly) 180mph, but it'll take as long as a 90mph fastball to get there, so he has time to see it and square around on it.
posted by empath at 9:11 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


So watching his refined tactic, I found myself wondering, "If a batter just holds the bat stationary where he reckons the ball will be* and he still does not connect, is that a strike or a ball?"

*Sort of inverse T-ball.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:14 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Well, it's a strike, because the ball is in the strike zone.
posted by empath at 9:20 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Hey! I understand the Japanese for "slo mo"!
posted by yoink at 9:20 AM on August 29


松本 浜田 OUT
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:21 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


I'm just looking at it and thinking that this guy's got a great attitude and sense of humor and comes across as super likeable. Shame he didn't get a shot in MLB.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:22 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


> "If a batter just holds the bat stationary where he reckons the ball will be* and he still does not connect, is that a strike or a ball?"

If the ball was outside of the strike zone then it would be umpires judgement. The rules say it is a strike if "Is struck at by the batter and is missed", but they do not define what "struck at" means. Which is why you get a lot of arguing about checked swings. For a bunt attempt the umpire will usually call it a strike attempt if the batter does not pull the bat back.
posted by papercrane at 9:24 AM on August 29


If a batter just holds the bat stationary where he reckons the ball will be* and he still does not connect, is that a strike or a ball?

It would probably be judged as if the batter were attempting to bunt. As long as the ball passes through the strike zone, and the batter keeps the bat over the plate and does not pull it back, the batter will be considered to have attempted a bunt. So, since he did not contact the ball, it would be a strike.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:29 AM on August 29


The more math-enabled MeFites are welcome to calculate how far back you'd have to move the pitching gun in order for air resistance to bring-down the ball speed to a more reasonable 90-95mph.

The problem is that a ball, whether moving or not, has gravity more or less acting on it the same as if you were to drop it from your hand (notwithstanding any lift it may generate from spinning - probably minimal) . I'm not in a position to calculate the physics, but it would almost certainly hit the ground well before it slowed down enough for him to have a reasonable chance of hitting it.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:37 AM on August 29


The problem is that a ball, whether moving or not, has gravity more or less acting on it the same as if you were to drop it from your hand (notwithstanding any lift it may generate from spinning - probably minimal

Don't think the spinning does anything, you need wings to create differences in pressure for lift, right?
posted by spaltavian at 9:47 AM on August 29


Spinning has a huge effect. That's all a curve ball is.
posted by TheJoven at 9:51 AM on August 29


He has the perfect reaction: "Oh, shit, that's how fast 300km/hr is? Yeah, no."
posted by Etrigan at 9:54 AM on August 29 [6 favorites]


Baseballs don't have wings, but the big, lumpy stitches alter the air pressure on different parts of fhe ball as it spins.
posted by chrchr at 9:57 AM on August 29


"If a batter just holds the bat stationary where he reckons the ball will be* and he still does not connect, is that a strike or a ball?"

Sounds like an "unchecked" unsuccessful attempt to make contact with the ball, so a strike.
posted by batfish at 10:08 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


TheJoven: Spinning has a huge effect. That's all a curve ball is.

I know spinning effects the path of the ball, I'm saying I don't see how it would create lift. Maybe I'm wrong.
posted by spaltavian at 10:09 AM on August 29


> Whats the best case scenario here? You bunt, and the bat gets destroyed, splinters apart, and destroys your face?

I don't think the bat would disintegrate, but his wrists might.

He knew exactly where the ball was going to go when he held the bat out for a bunt -- the balls were delivered by machine, they were all going exactly the same place -- and he held the bat too high. He was avoiding the ball on purpose.
posted by ardgedee at 10:14 AM on August 29


If it makes the ball go above where it would have without spin, that's lift. That's what lift means: a force that opposes gravity.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 10:17 AM on August 29


I've connected with a 100mph pitch from a batting machine after about a hundred tries and entirely due to luck. Fouled it off but in case you are wondering it really hurts your hands.
posted by srboisvert at 10:17 AM on August 29


I know spinning effects the path of the ball, I'm saying I don't see how it would create lift. Maybe I'm wrong.

If the spin is done correctly, top to bottom, you can get a "riser". This is usually in softball, not baseball. The lift is similar to that in a curveball in that the spin causes the ball to increase velocity in a direction. Remember, this isn't an endless force, the amount of spin is reduced by the time the ball gets to the plate. On a big enough scale, let's say a riser thrown into the Grand Canyon, gravity takes over like normal as the momentum from the spin is used up to create the lift.

An excellent example of a spin working in softball, including one ridiculous riser (SLYT)
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:21 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


His real danger might come if he did make contact.

In most games I've paid close attention to, at least one batter will foul a pitch off a leg or foot, which might put the odds somewhere around 1% for a given foul -- but the speed of the ball would reduce those odds quite a bit, because most such incidents would seem to have to come from early swings.
posted by jamjam at 10:22 AM on August 29


Mister Fabulous, is that not a wiffle ball?

Mythbusters seems to have busted the rising fastball myth.
posted by czytm at 10:25 AM on August 29


It's technically a blitzball
posted by pwnguin at 10:30 AM on August 29


Granted, that machine might be able to do it.
posted by czytm at 10:30 AM on August 29


The Magnus effect for anyone interested. It is possible to make a baseball rise via the Magnus effect, but not with a human arm. The actual 'rising fastball' has more to do with your brain being confused by the ball not dropping as fast as you expect.
posted by papercrane at 10:34 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


The actual 'rising fastball' has more to do with your brain being confused by the ball not dropping as fast as you expect.

But that's still "lift"--even if it is not sufficient lift to actually reverse the gravitational pull.
posted by yoink at 10:41 AM on August 29


> It's technically a blitzball

I think you pasted the wrong link? Looks like you are right though, it's definitely not a softball he's throwing.

> But that's still "lift"--even if it is not sufficient lift to actually reverse the gravitational pull.

I just wanted to be clear that you can't cause it to actually rise, I'm not saying lift isn't generated, if pressure can act on a ball to move it left or right there is no reason it can't cause it to fall faster or slower then normal.
posted by papercrane at 10:47 AM on August 29


1. This was delightful.
2. Purely on the strength of this showing alone I think I would watch Takashi Yamasaki do anything.
3. Only tangentially related but did you know that there's a Japanese baseball team called the Nippon Ham Fighters? It's true.
posted by phunniemee at 10:53 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Are they sub-titling the spoken Japanese with... more Japanese? Is that typical?
posted by Panjandrum at 10:55 AM on August 29


I enjoyed that a lot and I didn't understand a word that was said. If he were to simply put his bat out there as suggested above, it would be a strike, not different than a bunt attempt. If you are offering at the pitch, it is considered a strike.
posted by 724A at 10:57 AM on August 29


Or wait, does Yamazaki have like a really thick accent or something?
posted by Panjandrum at 10:58 AM on August 29


Who's in for my new Robot/Railgun Baseball league?

To be followed by Relativistic Billiards and Bowling With Neutronium.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:59 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


3. Only tangentially related but did you know that there's a Japanese baseball team called the Nippon Ham Fighters? It's true.
posted by phunniemee at 1:53 PM on August 29


Pssht. They're nothing compared to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.
posted by ZaphodB at 11:03 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


What jamjam said. If he fouls off a 300 kph fastball into his foot, he's going to be fitted with a cast.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:03 AM on August 29


There is one pitch in baseball that can rise, kinda: the knuckleball. But: 1) "...except the knuckleball" is practically a cliche, because the knuckleball is the exception to pretty much every rule; and 2) the knuckleball doesn't "rise" so much as "move any old direction it damn well pleases" and this includes vertical rise, but also pretty much anything else.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:03 AM on August 29


What a wuss. I could prolly crank that all over waveland ave.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:05 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


60.5 feet at 186mph = 222ms of travel time. The 80ms rule of human perceptual lag combines with about 400ms of actual swing time to make this completely impossible to hit without swinging well before the ball has left the machine.
posted by Revvy at 11:10 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


This is fun, but they certainly got their money's worth out of that one clip.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:14 AM on August 29 [5 favorites]


Are they sub-titling the spoken Japanese with... more Japanese? Is that typical?

I don't watch much Japanese TV, but I do watch a fair amount of these particular guys. "Downtown" is a famous comedy duo in Japan, most commonly known for their show Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende. The two have been on TV since the 1980's. Pretty much all of their shows have a massive amount of Japanese subtitles.

As for the show, there's a good following on the internet of getting many of their shows subtitled in English. IMO, it's a tough show to find a US/English comparison. The closest one anyone makes is Jackass given the games and punishments, but it's definitely smarter, and a much wider variety.

If you want to watch w/subtitles, here's some links: 1 2 3 4
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:27 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I found a source (Biomedical Engineering Principles in Sports) which estimates that the lift a typical 90 mph fastball gets from backspin causes it to fall 1 foot less than you'd predict from the influence of gravity alone, 1.6 ft instead of 2.6 ft., and makes the interesting point that only Randy Johnson of pitchers then pitching could even theoretically throw a strike and release the ball at a downward angle; everyone else had to throw it a little up.
posted by jamjam at 12:54 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


jamjam: "1 foot less "

and there it is, The Big Unit.
posted by chavenet at 1:40 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Personal/professional controversy aside, I'd love to see an in-his-prime Barry Bonds step into the box and take a few hacks against some similar pitches. I doubt the pitches are hittable by anyone, but that matchup would still be very entertaining.
posted by mosk at 3:05 PM on August 29


if you made contact I'm guessing your wrists would get broken, or something pretty bad would happen. On the other hand.... swing the friggin' bat. bunting? Laugh laugh, chortle, chortle. Give the bat to an American next says I.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 3:35 PM on August 29


I used to play little league. Then I stopped. About a decade later I went to the batting cages. Holy krap, did I get slow (or pitches got fast).

There was no possible way that I would have ever hit a 90 mph fastball, if I actually waited to see where it was going. I had to start my swing before it left the machine. And I hit it. And I felt this deep rattle in my elbow. And I had to sit down. And this was when I was 23.

So yeah, I bet I could hit that ball. But I also bet, it would be based on sheer guesstimating and luck. Also, I'd prolly need some kind of emt to deal with my shoulder popping outta my body or something.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:04 PM on August 29


One day a handsome and fiercesome young robot will step up to the plate and almost effortlessly make history.
And that robot will be made in ..."

posted by Twang at 5:30 PM on August 29


I'd love to see an in-his-prime Barry Bonds step into the box and take a few hacks against some similar pitches.

Or a young Gary Sheffield--he was always proclaimed to have the quickest bat in mlb.
posted by batfish at 6:04 PM on August 29


For the fastest possible real world matchup, give a gander at Aroldis Chapman (owner of the fastest fastball in baseball) vs. Cubs rookie Javier Baez (owner of the fastest swing).
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:18 AM on August 30


Watching this messed with my head. I kept rubbing and blinking my eyes after each pitched filmed from behind the plate.
posted by 4ster at 7:28 PM on August 30


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