Researchers say they’ve documented an unseen drag on major league baseball players that can wipe out home field advantage.
Researchers say they’ve documented an unseen drag on major league baseball players that can wipe out home field advantage, make pitchers give up more home runs, and take some punch out of a team’s bats.
The culprit: jet lag.
Travelers are well aware of the fatigue, poor sleep and other effects that can descend like a fog when their body clocks are out of sync with their surroundings. The new work adds to previous suggestions that professional athletes are no different.
Dr. Ravi Allada of Northwestern University said he and his colleagues wanted to study the effects of body clock disruptions on human performance. So they chose baseball, a game with plenty of performance measures gathered from hundreds of games a year, played by people who get little chance to settle in to new time zones when they travel.
Follow the Daily News Sports on Facebook. "Like" us here.
They looked for jet lag’s effects by analyzing 20 years’ worth of Major League Baseball data. They found 4,919 instances of a team taking the field after crossing two or three time zones but without enough time to adjust. People generally need a day of adjustment for each time zone crossed.
Their analysis was released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Results of the new study generally showed that traveling eastward was more disruptive than going west, a known feature of jet lag. A surprise, though, was that home teams seemed to suffer its effects more than visiting teams did.
Among the findings:
— Over all the games in the 20 years, teams won about 54 percent of games played at home, showing a home field advantage of 4 percent. But that edge was obliterated when home teams that were jet-lagged from traveling eastward played teams with no apparent jet lag — an apparent result of seemingly small declines in performance.
— After traveling eastward, jet-lagged home teams hit fewer doubles and triples, stole fewer bases and grounded into more double plays than when they weren’t affected. The impact on doubles was about one fewer per every seven games, while the other effects were smaller.
— Eastward travel was linked to pitchers allowing more home runs, both at home and away. The difference came to roughly one home run every 10 games.
The researchers suggested starting pitchers might get time to overcome jet lag if they are sent a few days ahead of the team to distant away games. Many teams send them ahead now on long flights, but it’s usually only a few hours early, to avoid overnight travel.
The researchers said they had no explanation for why teams were more hampered by jet lag at home than when they played elsewhere. Maybe that reflects some protection from a more structured daily schedule on the road than at home, they suggested.
That’s a reasonable idea, said Dr. W. Chris Winter, a Virginia sleep specialist who consults with several major league teams.
Winter, who has published research on how jet lag affects baseball teams but had no role in the new study, said the findings moved beyond simply documenting an effect on overall team performance toward learning more about it.
Ballplayers know jet lag is a problem, and have recently taken steps to ease the burden of their schedules. The Major League Baseball Players Association, concerned about fatigue, negotiated several changes in scheduling rules starting in 2018. For example, each team’s 162-game regular season schedule will be played over 187 days, up from 183. And there will be new rules on scheduling games, taking into account the timing of consecutive games.
What difference can jet lag make? Allada pointed to the National League Championship Series last October.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitching star Clayton Kershaw shut out the Chicago Cubs when he pitched against them in the Windy City, Allada noted. But when Kershaw returned from Los Angeles to face them again, the Cubs hit him hard, including two home runs.
“I can’t attribute it all to jet lag,” Allada said, but the study suggests the eastward trip might have played a role.
It’s speculative and just one example, he said. But it’s relevant “to those of us who are Chicago Cubs fans.”
- Prospect rankings: Yankees' Justus Sheffield, Mets' Justin Dunn in Keith Law's top 100
- Why not trade for Chris Sale? Yankees GM Brian Cashman explains
- Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, former MLBer Andy Marte killed in separate car crashes
- Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, ex-player Andy Marte killed in separate car crashes in Dominican Republic
- Jose Bautista 'wanted to be back' in Toronto
- Talkin’ baseball with MLB Network announcer Brian Kenny
- Yankees enter unfamiliar territory by hyping up top prospects
- Starlin Castro hoping for consistency to return to All-Star level
- Farm system rankings: Yankees near top, Mets in top 10
- 2017 Hall of Fame: Tim Raines, 2 others get call to Cooperstown
- Could Lowering Oxygen Levels Reduce Jet Lag?
- Why airlines may start starving you of oxygen
You might also like
- Dear Abby: Mother-in-law pops in without warning
- Ontario needs to do more to snuff out illegal smokes, national coalition says
- Hospital didn't follow rules for autistic man left in chair for nearly 2 hours
- Botwood biofuel plant one step closer to green light
- Drop-off holdup driver also nailed for robbery of St. John's deli
- Brown: Tweets cross the line — of civility and ideology
- Disbelief, apology as Miss Universe crown mistakenly presented to 1st runner-up
- Anglican Church apology to victims of former priest's abuse needed says minister
- California storms leave 4 dead, state of emergency declared in 50 counties
- New Brunswick weather: an icy mess on Tuesday
- Group proposing MHS 'renaissance' seeks council approval, with or without library
- Dennis Oland's murder conviction overturned on 'contentious point of law,' Crown argues
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- Malala Yousafzai becomes honorary Canadian
- Text of Malala Yousafzai's speech Wednesday to a joint session of Parliament
- Controversy over video comparing abortion to Holocaust shown in Catholic high school
- Foul play not suspected in deaths of four people found in burning N.B. house
- Plans to bring high-speed internet to remote First Nations with 3,600 km cable
- Deadly wrong-way collision kills four in Quebec
- Gov. Gen. David Johnston reflects on Vimy and horrors of war
- Canadian accused in Yahoo hack denied bail, judge criticizes parents
- Attention, Gardiner commuters: You've got one more week to use the York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp
- Alleged hitman in brazen Toronto shooting sent message about 'contract killing,' Crown says
- After 6 suspected overdoses, Toronto councillors want amnesty for users who test drugs
- How do you fix child care in Toronto? Get all 3 governments to spend billions on it, report says
- Review of York Region District School Board finds 'culture of fear,' 'systemic discrimination'
- Peel school board steps up meeting security 'to ensure people are safe'
- 'The feather and the Bible were together': A tragedy is helping to mend a city's racial divide
- 5 things we learned about the changing nature of news from The National in Conversation
- 'We hear you': Sudbury city official says cyclists, pedestrians will have a voice at city hall
- Any cuts made to Saskatoon's budget may be permanent, city manager warns
- Council approves demolition of low-rental housing for college residence
- 'It's just not a strong signal': Residents in rural P.E.I. asked to test their internet speed