Most of us have been in this position: You got to the batting cages with your buddies. You may start slow, the 40 mph cage, or you may feel like a big shot and head for the 60 mph. You’re spraying the ball all over the place, feeling good, making hard contact. Your friends hop in after you and, the trash talk starts.
Eventually, someone — maybe you, maybe a friend, maybe some random eavesdropper who wants to show everybody up — hops in the Big Boy Cage. Pitches are firing out of the machine at 70+ mph, and somebody is looking foolish. Maybe someone even shrieks when a pitch comes a bit too close for comfort, jumping back, or maybe even swinging weakly. Everyone else laughs. Who’d want to do that?
Major leaguers do. And they do so in such a different set of circumstances that it should 100% be physically impossible to actually do it.
Don’t take my word for it, though – Business Insider released a video detailing just how impossible it should be to make perfect, sphere-to-cylinder contact:
It just…shouldn’t happen! And again, don’t take my word for it – listen to former Twin/Angel/Tiger Torii Hunter talk about trying to hit at the Major League level:
“It’s a matter of precision, adjustment and accuracy, and there’s not much room for error. Miss by a half-inch, and you can top the ball or hit it into the ground. You have to have hand-eye coordination to adjust to the ball’s speed, and you have to see the rotation of the ball.
“You have to hit the ball square, even though there are all kinds of mistakes that can be made. That’s why three of 10 is good in baseball, but it might not be in another business.”
Whenever I let my mind drift over to the realm of baseball, inevitably I fantasize about taking cuts at the Big League level, Hunter’s advice be damned. …And then I remember a particular excerpt from former Dodger Ace Orel Hershiser‘s book “Out of the Blue“:
The average fan, unless he played at a fairly high level, would not be able to catch-let alone hit-a major league pitch. That’s not a put-down; it’s a fact. Have you ever wondered how you might do against a Dwight Gooden? Consider this: not only would you likely not even foul off one of ten pitches, it’s unlikely you would be able to force yourself to even stay in the batter’s box when that long right arm came sweeping across his body. I get paid to face him, and the only reason I can stand in there is because of my confidence in his control.
Or I watch GoPro videos featuring catchers:
All that to say that yeah, I can’t hit a major league pitch. You probably can’t hit a major league pitch. Hell, Carlos Gomez can barely hit a major league pitch this season, and he’s a former All-Star. It’s a bit of a “DUH” moment, but it’s nice to keep things in perspective every once in a while.