BRANDON, Fla - Fast-pitching is almost taken for granted by the time fans tune in for the World Series but don’t under-estimate the ability to throw 95-mile-an-hour fastballs, much less to hit one.
Let’s start with some basic math. The mound is 60 feet, 6 inches from the plate. A 95-mph fastball is traveling about 139 feet-per-second. That means it takes about 0.425 seconds to reach the plate.
That’s less than half a second for hand-eye coordination to do its thing and make a connection.
“In that amount of time, they’ve got to see the ball, predict where it’s gonna go, and also generate a swing. A major-league swing takes around .181 to .2 seconds,” said Jason Sherwin, a neuroscientist and the founder of deCervo, a company that specializes in high-speed decision-making.
deCervo has created an app that players can use to help them improve their brain-bat connection.
“If you subtract that 0.18, 0.2 from 0.425, that leaves 0.2 seconds to make a decision,” Sherwin pointed out.
But it takes between 0.1 to 0.18 seconds for the brain to realize the pitch has been thrown, so the batter has hundredths of a second to make the perfect swing.
“When you factor in the amount of time for the swing, the amount of time to see what is in front of you to be processed in your brain, you’ve really got like 50 to 100 milliseconds. That’s 0.05 to 0.1 seconds to decide,” Sherwin said.
Armed with that basic understanding, we headed over to the The Hitting Academy in Brandon to see the speed in action.
“It is tough, man, it’s quick,” said manager Matt Fisherman.
He played college ball at the University of Florida, so he has faced his share of heaters.
“The difference between 90 and 95 is not a lot, as far as what you’re seeing, it gets on you a lot quicker,” Fisherman said.
He set up FOX 13’s Josh Cascio in a batting cage to face the equivalent of an 88-mile-an-hour pitch.
It might as well have been 188.
“You’re not really thinking about when you’re up there. Especially [Major League Baseball players], everyone in the World Series, they’ve done it their whole life. They're used to that speed,” Fisherman said.
Josh? Not so much.
But with some of Fisherman’s advice -- and dropping the pitching speed slower than a major league change-up, or about 65 miles per hour -- he started to make more consistent contact.
But at least now we know just how fast, fast really is.
“It is an impressive skill, it’s the hardest someone can throw against the fastest somebody can decide,” said Sherwin.