Inside the batter’s brain

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Future scouting report: “Great upper body strength. Good batting eye. Fluid swing. Well-developed , V5 region of his visual cortex. Good looking girlfriend, so he clearly has self confidence …”

In a study published today in the journal Neuron, UC Berkeley researchers used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to pinpoint the prediction mechanisms in the brain that enable hitters to track pitches … They found that the brain is capable of effectively “pushing” forward objects along in their trajectory from the moment it first sees them, simulating their path based on their direction and speed and allowing us to unconsciously project where they’ll be a moment later.

And, it follows, that hitters whose v-5 region of their visual cortex — the part of the brain that handles this stuff — are better at adjusting to and thus mashing pitches. Pitches which move over 12 feet in the 100 millisecond between when the batter’s eye sees the ball and when the nerve impulse which makes the batter start his swing can get moving.

Well, it’s either that or they have more grit and WtW and stuff.

(thanks to Mike Lewis for the heads up)

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).