The use of steroids by a Major League baseball slugger may result in considerable improvements in the count of home run along with modest improvements in bat-and-ball speed and muscle mass, as per a study by Roger Tobin, Tufts University physicist.
“A change of only a few percent in the average speed of the batted ball, which can reasonably be expected from steroid use, is enough to increase home run production by at least 50 percent,” he says. This disproportionate effect arises because home runs are relatively rare events that occur on the “tail of the range distribution” of batted balls.
“In most any statistical distribution — of people’s heights, SAT scores, or how far baseballs are hit — there’s a large bump where most of the values fall, with the graph falling rapidly as you move away from that region in either direction toward the rarer values,” explains Tobin. “It’s a well-known statistical property of such distributions that a relatively small shift in the center point of the distribution can produce a much larger proportional change in the number of values well above or below the center. Because the distribution’s ‘tail’ is particularly sensitive to small changes in the peak and/or width, home run records can be more strongly affected by steroid use than other athletic accomplishments.”
It was quickly acknowledged by Tobin that modern-day athletes seem to achieve more than athletes of the past but that does not, in any way, suggest that they are cheating with steroids. He remarked that Physics is unable to provide any evidence whether or not a particular home run is assisted by steroids but a combination of Physics and Physiology may prove effective in establishing a relationship between the use of steroids and improved home run production.
The findings of this study are expected to be of importance as the game of baseball has been troubled by accusation of steroids in the recent past.
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