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CFD Analysis Solves Mystery of Baseball Pitch Trajectory
Posted Fri March 26, 2021 @02:28PM
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Application In professional baseball and major league baseball, pitchers often use a breaking ball called a forkball or split as a decisive pitch. These balls are known to be difficult to hit because the batter feels as if the ball is falling rapidly at the plate.

A team led by Professor Takayuki Aoki of Tokyo Institute of Technology (Titech) has conducted research using the supercomputer TSUBAME3.0 at the Global Scientific Information and Computing Center, and performed a numerical fluid dynamics simulation of a baseball flying at high speed while rotating, calculating the seams in detail.


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A computational fluid dynamics simulation using the supercomputer TSUBAME3.0 was performed for a low-speed rotating forkball with a two-seam backspin seam. As a result, the research team found for the first time that the ball does not approach a parabolic trajectory due to the low speed rotation and weak upward lift force, but that the trajectory is lowered due to the downward force “negative Magnus effect” occurring in the seam angle range of -30 to 90 degrees. They also found that the “negative Magnus effect” does not occur with a four-seam pitch of the same velocity and rotation speed.

lift_force
Two-seam fast ball lift force characteristics

They also found that if they knew the velocity, rotation speed, and axis of rotation immediately after releasing the ball, the trajectory of the ball could be accurately reproduced. For a two-seam ball with a velocity of 150 km/h and a rotation speed of 1,100 rpm and a four-seam ball with a velocity of 150 km/h and a rotation speed of 1,100 rpm, the drop of the ball at the plate differed by as much as 19 cm just because the seam was different.

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