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Math Trek

Winning the World Series with math

A nearly circular path could be the fastest way to home plate.

3:10pm, October 22, 2010

To run the bases faster, baseball players just need a bit of mathematics, according to research by an undergraduate math major and his professors. Their calculations show that the optimal path around the bases is one that perhaps no major-league ball player has ever run: It swings out a full 18.5 feet from the baseline.

The precise path the researchers calculated probably won’t turn out to be the very fastest in the real world, they acknowledge, because of physiological and practical complexities they couldn’t model. Still, the analysis suggests that runners might be able to improve their times by following much wider paths than they had ever c

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