Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Source: New Jersey Jewish News

Balance and rhythm.  Sleep and energy.  Timing and speed.  Accuracy and endurance.  All important attributes associated with successful performances.  But what if jet lag truly affected the performance of not only hitters but pitchers too.  What if MLB had 20 years and 40,000 games as evidence to support that jet lag negatively impacts athletes' performance exponentially?  Would that change teams' like the Yankees' strategy for returning home after a long road series on the West Coast with regards to pitching rotations, days off and even flights?  I say the evidence is too compelling to ignore.

Source: Business Insider

Jet lag does impair the performance of Major League Baseball players,” said Dr. Ravi Allada, a circadian rhythms expert who led the study. “The negative effects of jet lag we found are subtle, but they are detectable and significant. And they happen on both offense and defense and for both home and away teams, often in surprising ways," reports Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, author of the 20-year-old study. This two decade long research is supported by a grant from The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Jet lag can impact a pitcher's performance, enabling him to not only give up home team advantage but actually give up more runs than a pitcher who is well rested and has not had his 24-hour clock disrupted.  For the 2016 ALCS series where the Dodgers played Chicago, Clayton Kershaw was untouchable in Game 2 at home at Dodger Stadium but,  “for game 6, the teams had returned to Chicago from LA, and this time the Cubs scored five runs off of Kershaw, including two home runs,” Allada said. “While it’s speculation, our research would suggest that jet lag was a contributing factor in Kershaw’s performance.”  The study goes on to say that teams traveling from west to east are more highly impacted which is consistent with the Kershaw Story.


Other performance factors like base running, stretching singles into doubles, doubles into triples and hitting into double plays can be attributed to jet lag as well.  So what does this all mean?  Do we stop traveling across the country and across multiple time zones? Fewer trips to the West Coast for the Bombers?  Not exactly, but it could affect who travels when and with Joe Girardi, who loves to play the numbers, at the helm of the Yankees, one might think he read the study and is considering something the researchers suggest as spring training approaches.

“If I were a baseball manager and my team was traveling across time zones — either to home or away — I would send my first starting pitcher a day or two ahead, so he could adjust his clock to the local environment,” Allada said.  I could also argue that when it comes to resting players, much like Girardi's best practices over the years, I might send a veteran player like Jacoby Ellsbury whose speed is critical to our on base percentage, on the plane with my starting pitcher.  Playing the angles, developing strategies and knowing the science can all boost the win column for the Yankees.

Nothing like a little science lesson on this Hump Day Wednesday, particularly when the phenomena uncovered could increase the number of W's for our 2017 Yankees.  Interesting stuff none the less and more logistical planning to add into the mix this coming spring.

--Suzie Pinstripe
BYB Managing Editor
Twitter: @suzieprof

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