“How can we make a bat that helps you do the most damage when you make contact against elite pitching?”
Like many of D-LAB’s best innovations, the idea for Gattaca came from our insane dedication to performance. In this case, our research began with watching home run videos and guessing the launch angle, exit velocity and distance. When we weren’t sitting around watching MLB highlight videos, we were in the field and batting cages, having conversations with players and asking them what they want in a bat to help them do it.
We knew there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every player. So we decided to use all of the technology at our disposal to help players hit the ball at their optimal ability as frequently as possible.
ALL ABOUT THAT BOFA
The first step in our mission to achieve optimal performance was to look at spin rate. We knew that generally speaking, MORE SPIN = MORE DISTANCE. This led us to the concept of adding grooves to the barrel, similar to what you see on a golf club to increase spin or launch angle. So we created a prototype that used a gear effect concept to create more spin. And it worked...to a point. At a certain point we got diminishing returns, and we realized that too much spin at higher launch angles meant a loss of distance. In general, spin rate increases with launch angle.
Next, we tackled LAUNCH ANGLE. Launch angle is a hot topic in baseball that is largely misunderstood. Some bats on the market claim to help batters achieve “maximum launch angle,” but that’s not a good thing. In fact, achieving maximum launch angle means you’re hitting a pop-up. What players really need is distance, and launch angle is only part of that equation.
We then paired the spin gain and launch angle data we observed in the lab with the third factor of our distance formula: exit velocity. Pairing our field testing data with analysis of MLB home run data from 2015-2018, we found that 86% of the longest home runs were hit at launch angles between 20-30°, the intermediate launch angle range.
To put this all together in a way we could help hitters understand, we coined the term BOFA, or Batted at Optimal Flight Attributes. Batted at Optimal Flight Attributes is how we classify any ball hit above a launch angle of 14 degrees (balls that will leave the infield on the fly), and a ball hit within 10% of your maximum exit velocity. BOFA allows players to quantify their maximum performance, and gauge how often they’re achieving it.
The data shows that Gattaca increased the frequency of optimally hit balls by almost 10%.
We quickly learned that BOFA is the key to extra base hits, and we wanted to help players increase their BOFA and start focusing on BOFA+, or what we defined as balls hit between that optimal launch angle of 20-30 degrees that lead to the farthest home runs hit by big leaguers.
With all of this data at our fingertips, we got to work on creating a new barrel. To test our groove theory, we used high speed video and tracking software to compare how non-grooved bats and grooves at different angles could positively influence BOFA (see images in Process Tab and spin rate chart). Our testing showed that when we rifled the grooves at a shallow angle down the barrel to account for typical swing plane and approach angle, we were able to maximize the launch angle and spin effect to estimate a range of distance gained for any launch condition.
After observing Gattaca’s performance with different kinds of swings, we found that the bat provides optimal performance when the grooves are parallel to the ground. In fact, over the course of hundreds of iterations of our trajectory, and followed by hundreds of swings of play testing, we saw players achieve a 10% improved BOFA with this groove pattern. This equates to players reaching their optimal performance 10% more frequently. Since batters don’t swing on a flat plane, it became clear that the barrels needed to be engineered differently for a right-handed hitter versus a left-handed hitter, and for players who swing a 33” bat compared to those who swing a 34” bat.
But why stop there? To give hitters even more of an advantage, we added our never-before-seen (in baseball) Adjustable On Demand (AOD) knob. This technology allows players to better control the Moment of Inertia (MOI) of the bat, meaning that players can make real-time adjustments at the plate. Whether choking up or extending the bat length for more plate coverage, hitters can maintain their normal swing mechanics while minimizing power loss.
Once we finished adding features and tweaking this bat, the end product was four versions of our most technologically-advanced aluminum bat ever, Gattaca! We knew there wasn’t one right answer for every hitter, so we specifically engineered each length and created four unique versions of Gattaca. In the 34”, we’ve delivered a larger hitting area, that gradually tapers into a stiff handle, and is optimized for getting more mass through the hitting zone. With the 33”, we use a quicker transition from barrel to taper allowing us to control the weight for a more balanced swing, while also helping to minimize hand sting. Having four distinct options allows each player to decide which Gattaca best matches their swing.
Gattaca is designed for elite hitters to deliver consistent improvement over time. It’s not going to feel different the first time you swing it, or for every launch condition (velocity, launch angle and spin rate), but throughout the course of a season you can expect to hit the ball at your highest capability more often.
If you’re having a tough time getting excited about a 10% improvement, consider this:
Over the course of 100 swings, Gattaca hit 10 more balls in your optimal BOFA range. That means more swings resulting in doubles, triples and homers. That bump alone could make the difference in getting noticed as a college or draft prospect.
Because we were making the ultimate bat to help players control their game, we added our AOD knob which allows players to adjust the length of their bat, helping ensure that even when players choke up they’re getting maximum power from their swing.
As the cherry on top of the already-insane Gattaca tech, we added in our brand new Kryptos end cap. Kryptos has a lens in the center that was specifically designed to show the internal grooves of the barrel--AKA the tech that helped us hack launch angle.
With that, the Gattaca was born. Kind of a big deal, right?
Through our extensive play testing and research, it became clear that distance was tied to three key factors: launch angle, spin rate, and exit velocity. We checked our math against the best in the game and found that, over the course of 3 years, 86% of the farthest MLB home-runs were hit between a 20 and 30 degree launch angle. To help hitters understand how they measure up, we coined the term BOFA, and built Gattaca to help players hit balls at optimal flight angle more frequently.