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Baseball diamonds: the lefthander's best friend
Date:7/7/2008

That's because the game was designed to make a lefty the "Natural," according to David A. Peters, Ph.D., the McDonnell Douglas Professor of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, and uber baseball fan. Peters is a mechanical engineer who specializes in aircraft and helicopter engineering and has a different approach to viewing America's Favorite Pastime.

First of all, some numbers.

"Ninety percent of the human population is right-handed, but in baseball 25 percent of the players, both pitchers, and hitters, are left-handed," said Peters, a devoted St. Louis Cardinal fan who was at Stan the Man's last ball game at Sportsman's Park in 1963.

"There is a premium on lefthanders for a number of reasons. For starters, take seeing the ball.

"A right-handed batter facing a right-handed pitcher actually has to pick up the ball visually as it comes from behind his (the batter's) left shoulder. The left-handed batter facing the right-handed pitcher has the ball coming to him, so he has a much clearer view of pitches."

Then, Peters says, consider the batter's box. After a right-hander connects with a ball, his momentum spins him toward the third-base side and he must regroup to take even his first step toward first base. In contrast, the left-hander's momentum carries him directly toward first.

"The left-handed batter has a five-foot advantage over the right-handed batter," says Peters. "And that means the lefty travels the 90 feet to first roughly one-sixth of a second faster than the righty. That translates to more base hits for the left-hander, whether singles or extra base hits because lefties are getting to the bases more quickly."

Even Jim Thome and Jason Giambi?

The left-handed pitcher generally is much more difficult to steal off, as, from his stretch, he peers directly at the runner; the right-hander must look over his shoulder and wheel to first base, giving the runner more of a warn
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Contact: David A. Peterson
dap@wustl.edu
314-935-4337
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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