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Problem Title: The Sweet Spot

  Year: 2010      
  Student Level: Undergraduate      
  Source: MCM      
  Commentary: Yes (1)      
  Student Papers: Yes (4)      

Explain the "sweet spot" on a baseball bat.

Every hitter knows that there is a spot on the fat part of a baseball bat where maximum power is transferred to the ball when hit. Why isn’t this spot at the end of the bat? A simple explanation based on torque might seem to identify the end of the bat as the sweet spot, but this is known to be empirically incorrect. Develop a model that helps explain this empirical finding.

Some players believe that "corking" a bat (hollowing out a cylinder in the head of the bat and filling it with cork or rubber, then replacing a wood cap) enhances the "sweet spot" effect. Augment your model to confirm or deny this effect. Does this explain why Major League Baseball prohibits "corking"?

Does the material out of which the bat is constructed matter? That is, does this model predict different behavior for wood (usually ash) or metal (usually aluminum) bats? Is this why Major League Baseball prohibits metal bats?


Judges' Commentary: The Outstanding Sweet Spot Papers

Michael Tortorella
Rutgers University

  Student Papers      

Team 6749: An Identification of "Sweet Spot"

Zhejiang University, China


Team 7571: An optimal model of "Sweet Spot" effect.

Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China


Team 7586: The Sweet Spot: A Wave Model of Baseball Bats

Princeton University, NJ


Team 7920: Brody Power Model: An Analysis of Baseball's Sweet Spot