Just noticed this shot from last weekend. Did I capture an optical illusion or do aluminum bats bend this much with a 10 year-old swinging? Almost looks like a noodle.
Don't tell the power slugger this, but I think what you're seeing here is mainly due to distortion caused by the focal plane shutter in your camera. The distortion is exacerbated in this shot due to the extent that the bat is covering a large part of the frame across the vertical dimension, while swinging from left to right across the horizontal.
At higher shutter speeds, the shutter is forming a very narrow slit that scans the sensor plane from top to bottom. The image recorded on the sensor is "upside down" relative to what you see in the viewfinder since unlike the viewfinder image which has been "corrected" by the mirror housing, the light forming the image is passed directly to the sensor after having been reversed by the lens. As a result, while the shutter is travelling downwards across the sensor, the bottom of the image is being exposed first.
As a result of all this, the tip of the bat will have been captured just slightly before it's handle. By the time the shutter's slit reached the handle of the bat, it's tip had already moved well forward of it's original position, giving the impression that the bat was bending forwards.
This is the same kind of thing we often see in photos of prop airplanes that give the impression that the rotating propeller blades are bending towards the front of the airplane. One way to test this would be to try capturing a similar photo with the camera upside down. The bat should be seen to be bending in the opposite direction.
....What you are seeing is the reflex of the bat after contact. It deflects backwards on contact and forwards after the ball departs....
Neat theory...but not really. What you are seeing is the reflex of the bat after contact. It deflects backwards on contact and forwards after the ball departs.... Kinda cool....and why wooden bats shatter... and why aluminum ones have been accused of too much power...they never break...just flex like this for more power.