The Science Behind Michael Morse’s Game-Winning RBI

Congratulations are in order to the San Francisco Bumgarners for winning their third World Series in the past five years, with a dramatic Game 7 victory over the Kansas City Royals last night.

The Bumgar…..oh, wait I’m sorry – the Giants, yes the Giants (even though no one would argue if they changed their nickname to the Bumgarners) were spectacular throughout the Series and the playoffs.

In last night’s Game 7, the Giants took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning before the Royals came back to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning. From there, the score remained tied until the pivotal fourth inning. The Giants led off with a pair of singles by Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence, to put runners at first and second. After a fly ball by Brandon Belt moved to third, Michael Morse took his place in the batter’s box. At this point, Kansas City countered with flame throwing right-handed relief pitcher, Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera quickly ran the count to 0-2 before Morse delivered what turned out to the the game-winning RBI on Herrera’s next pitch –  a 99 mph four-seam fastball that resulted in a broken bat single to right field. It was just the fifth hit Herrera had allowed on an 0-2 count all year.

Here is video of Morse’s hit:

Within the framework of Morse’s World Series winning hit, let’s look at the science behind the swing – specifically why his bat broke and how Herrera and the Royals fell victim to dumb luck.

In order for a bat to break, the ball must be hit significantly away from the sweet spot or COP (center of percussion). Significance in this case is just a few inches, but it can make all the difference in the world.

Look at the video below that explains how a bat is broken when it makes contact with a 90 mph pitch (remember Herrera’s pitch was 99 mph).

As you can see, the closer the ball is hit toward the middle of the bat, the easier it is for the bat to break.

In the case of the Morse hit, he clearly connected with a spot on the bat that wasn’t ideal but was able to manufacture something out of it. Contrast this with hitting a golf ball on the shaft (or hosel) of the club, and the result would be horrific. In baseball, however, Morse gets the game-winning hit and is a hero.

Y.C.P.B indeed …..(you can’t predict ball).