Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Seeing Bigger Balls

This is from an interesting article I read over the offseason.

According to an article from Live Science, better hitters may see the balls as bigger:

Researchers found a correlation between batting averages of softball players and how big or small they perceived the ball to be. After games at several softball fields in Charlottesville, Va., the researchers asked 47 players to pick from eight different-sized circles the one that best represented the size of the ball they had been trying to hit. "Only people who hit .500 or above pointed at the big circle," said Jessica Witt, a cognitive psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia.

I won't go into too much detail about the flaws of this extremely subjective study- but asking people who hit well on a given day to describe the size of a ball is as much about personal bravado and cultural expectation as it is about objective correlations. Fat chance getting the player who popped up to 3rd all day to a) NOT say the ball looked small or to b) remember the experience of seeing the ball reliably at all.

I also suspect a major confounder at play here. To assess the true reason behind differing levels of production on the softball field that day, the correct question should actually have been, "how many beers have you had?"

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"I've had a pretty good success facing Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third base."
- Carl Erskine