Logic would assume night owls in Major League Baseball have the upper hand over the morning larks as long as they’re not on the daytime heavy schedule of the Chicago Cubs.
Turns out this only partially true, in a league dominated by night games and red-eye charter flights statistics show “morning type” pitchers somehow are at an overall advantage. The statistical boost they get in day games far exceeds the slight advantage their counterparts get in night games.
A new study found a player’s chronotype and time of first pitch play a major role in performance. The will be abstract on display at SLEEP 2010 on Wednesday morning.
18 pitchers from the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays were included in the study. Researchers analyzed each pitcher’s 2009 statistics. Combined, they played 728 early innings and 845 late innings that season.
Pitchers determined their chronotype through a modified version of the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire.
Roughly half the players were morning types. That group had an ERA of 3.06 in day games. Pitchers who were evening types had a relatively higher ERA, at 3.49. All pitchers trended towards higher ERAs in late games. Evening types did have a slight advantage, at 4.07 versus 4.15 ERA.
The author of the study suggests the results could lead to a new way to classify players to optimize team performance in a given game. Baseball managers could consider player chronotypes before a pitching rotation or calling on a reliever out of the bullpen.