Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yu Darvish vs Will Venable

Well, that was exciting. If you were to listen or watch coverage of yesterday's Spring Training game between the Padres vs Rangers you would be excused to assume the second coming of Cy Young was present.

Darvish, for what it's worth, did not disappoint, throwing two scoreless innings.

But I'm more interested, not in the outs Darvish recorded, but the one he didn't. In the Top of the 2nd, Will Venable took a 2-2 fastball and doubled off the CF wall (should be noted that had it not been for the giant blue wall in CF, Venable would have taken him deep).

Venable's double, an estimated 410 foot shot on a 93 MPH fastball, was "wind aided" and due to "altitude" according to Yu Darvish afterwards. He also said that Venable didn't square the ball up.

Venable's reactions were fantastic. On Darren Smith's show on Wednesday, Venable said sarcastically "Of course I didn't hit is squarely...because he's Yu Darvish. And I'm Will Venable."

Per Dan Hayes, Venable's reaction was "Maybe his perception of reality isn't as right on. I don't know. No comment."

Brilliant stuff from Will.

But let's look at Yu Darvish's claims. First, wind. Per ESPN's box score, there was an 11 MPH wind coming from the West. According to some guy on the internet who claims to be a physics expert (and my English degree is not going to challenge him on that), an average headwind of 10 MPH would convert a 400-ft HR into a 370-ft out. However, at Peoria, a westward moving wind would create more of a cross-breeze, not a tail or head wind. Thus, while it may have some effect on trajectory, if anything, the ball would have flown further without the wind, a point Will Venable made on Darren Smith's show: "I think the wind saved it from being a homerun." Well played sir.

Now, how about the elevation claim. Weather Underground list their elevation at 1,145 ft. According to our mystery physics person, 1,000 feet of elevation adds 6 feet of flight to a baseball. As a brief comparison, an article in the Arizona Central prior to the All Star Game in Phoenix quoted a University of Arizona professor (Wildcat shout-out!) who had co-authored "Effects of Altitude and Atmospheric Conditions on the Flight of a Baseball" and found that a baseball flys, on average, 5 feet further in Phoenix and their elevation of 1,038 feet.

Fair enough.

So let's assume that Venable's double in the 2nd got an extra 5-6 ft based on elevation. A number that is at least in part limited based on the cross wind that was present that day.

But no, I'm sure he didn't square up on it.

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