Carleton: Blame it on the plane: jet lag and baseball

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on February 1, 2017:

Last week, there was an article making the rounds about a baseball study that was published in an actual scientific journal! The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) and written by researchers Alex Song, Thomas Severini, and Ravi Allada of Northwestern University, looked at major-league games from 1992-2011. They specifically looked at the effects of travel across time zones for teams.

It makes sense that travel might impact a player’s (and a team’s) performance. MLB teams are located in four different time zones, and when a team goes from New York to Los Angeles they might find themselves in a position where their bodies think it’s 7:00 pm and time to start tonight’s game, but the clock thinks that it’s 4:00 pm. The clock usually wins that debate.

While I always appreciate “real” scientists taking up baseball as a medium, we also need to make sure that the work is high quality. I am not enough of an expert on circadian rhythms and sleep adjustment to pass judgment on their contention that a human being needs one day per time zone crossed to fully adjust to the new time, but that sounds reasonable and they have some references, so I will accept it as valid.

The problem is everything else that they did.

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Originally published: February 1, 2017. Last Updated: February 1, 2017.