There's no secret about the proper path to first: a chalk line marks the way. But, if you know from the crack of the bat that you're headed for second, then math professor Frank Morgan says you should pay that line no mind.
When Morgan modeled Major League baserunning
, he found that most runners make an error when running out extra-base hits. While going to first, they wait too long to curve a little to the outside of the baseline (you want to come into first base at an angle so you can round the bag). If runners start to curve to the outside as soon as they set off for first, Morgan found, they wasted less time and energy and make it to second base faster.
Of course, you can't veer so far out that you're way outside the baseline and get called out. But Morgan says you can follow his tactics and still stay within the rules.