Albert Pujols’ Swing Could Almost Power The DeLorean

Back To The Future

The first “Back To The Future” movie was released on July 3, 1985. At the time, Albert Pujols was five years old.

While young Albert may or may not have been enamored by such terms as “flux capacitor” or “1.21 gigawatts”, few could have predicted the amazing amount of success the trilogy of movies would have.

Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd (as Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown) certainly were the stars of the show, but there was also another star – one that had no lines of dialogue actually; the DeLorean time machine.

An actual car from the time period, the DeLorean DMC-12 was chosen by movie producers for its futuristic look. While the car’s speedometer could only reach 85, it was deemed by Doc Brown that time travel could be reached if the DeLorean reached 88 miles per hour.

So what does “Back To the Future” have to do with Albert Pujols? Let’s get to that.

In 2006 Pujols was in the midst of a season in which he would hit a career-high 49 home runs and drive in a career-high 137 RBI, while slashing .331/.431/.671. During this time, his swing speed was calculated at 86.99 miles per hour (while swinging his preferred 31.5 ounce bat). While Pujols admitted that he may have “held himself back a bit” because of of a strained back during testing, his swing speed was nevertheless measured at 86.99 miles per hour.

With that information in hand, you can probably see where we’re going (not sure if there are roads. Hopefully there are).

In terms of sending the DeLorean “back to the future”, Albert would fall just short of the necessary energy in order to make that event happen.

Having Albert take swings in the parking lot of a strip mall in order to send someone traveling through time (instead of a car), would probably be a bad idea. But it is interesting to think of that, relative to the amount of energy he produces with his swing

It got us thinking. What other ‘real world’ or ‘movie world’ application would he fall just shy of doing?

Take a look.

Below is a short list that requires the same energy required to send the DeLorean forward, or back to the future. In the DeLorean’s case, the energy expenditure came from traveling at 88 miles per hour. In the case of these other entities, each has the same energy output as a car traveling 88 miles per hour.

1) Kinetic energy of a 55 ton aircraft at typical landing speed (59 m/s or 115 knots)

2) One complete bike ride of the Tour de France (or 90 hours ridden at 5 W/kg by a 65 kg rider)

3) Energy from burning 16 kilograms of oil (using 135 kg per barrel of light crude)

Diving deeper, here are a few more things that Albert’s 86.99 mile per hour bat speed could equate as it applies to energy output:

1) Kinetic energy of the armor-piercing round fired by the assault guns of the ISU-152 tank

2) $1 of electricity at a cost of $0.10/kWh (the US average retail cost in 2009)

3) Energy from the combustion of 1 cubic meter of natural gas

4) Caloric energy consumed by Olympian Michael Phelps on a daily basis during Olympic training

5) Theoretical minimum energy required to accelerate 1 kg of matter to escape velocity from Earth’s surface (ignoring atmosphere)

Getting back to baseball…

While most MLB batters average between 85 and 95 miles per hour, Pujols’ swing speed is a perfect example of maximizing power through more than just actual bat speed. Swing speed and swing power can be looked at as an output of energy or watts. Creating a swing that maximizes power (relative to bat weight) is important, but maximizing swing speed “through the zone” is equally or more important in terms of power output.

Power at it’s core is a measure of energy and how within the swing that energy is transferred to the ball at contact.  In terms of SwingTracker, the “Power” score is directly related to speed but also includes other factors such as the mass of the bat and it’s acceleration.

We will continue to look at power and how it applies to your swing as well as SwingTracker later this week.