Archive for 29th October 2009

Baserunner’s Optimal Path

Note added 13 June 2017: see a video featuring Prof. Johnson at the NESN Clubhouse.

In his senior colloquium last fall advised by Frank Morgan, Davide Carozza ’09 investigated the fastest path around the bases in baseball, assuming a bound of say 10 ft/sec2 on acceleration/deceleration. Following the baseline, stopping at each base, takes about 22.2 seconds. The standard recommended “banana” path follows the baseline maybe halfway to first base and then veers a bit to the right to come at first base from a better angle to continue towards second. That cannot be ideal. It would have been better to start at an angle to the right to head directly to an outer point on the banana path. Davide found that a circular path at 17.8 seconds is roughly 20% faster than following the baseline at 22.2 seconds. Stewart Johnson then computed the following optimal path at 16.7 seconds. The record time according to Guiness is 13.3 seconds, set by Evar Swanson in 1932 (with larger acceleration than our assumed 10 ft/sec2).

Is it legal to run so far outside the base path? Continue reading ‘Baserunner’s Optimal Path’ »