Now that the World Series is upon is, I thought I might take a moment to discuss the latest results in the field of optimal base running. On the face of it, this may seem like a non-issue; after all, as any decent student of geometry will tell you, the shortest distance between any two plates is a straight line.
In a game of baseball, however, it’s more important to minimize time, not distance. Given this, running a path that consists of four straight lines connecting each base is not optimal, because the runner must slow down to make the sharp turns at each base. Of course, baseball players already know this, which is why they often swing out in their path before crossing first when they are confident that they can reach second or more. But still, the question remains: are these trajectories optimal?
According to a trio of mathematicians from Williams . . . → Read More: Optimal Base Running