Rowley: The baseball world where Pitbull is bigger than the Beatles

From SABR member Meg Rowley at Baseball Prospectus on March 21, 2016:

What’s in a song? If you’re a major-league baseball player, not much time and seemingly endless potential to embarrass yourself. In 2014, on a quest to quicken pace of play, MLB introduced new rules limiting walk-up songs to no more than 15 seconds. The walk-up song is an odd little tradition. It’s a declaration of purpose. It’s a batter’s chance to say he has bad intentions where the baseball is concerned. It’s a musical extension of the pitcher staring down a hitter from the mound. It’s a momentary pause, and chance to focus, before doing the very hard work of baseball. It’s a brief burst of personality. Sometimes, it’s an extension of the player’s brand. Marc Anthony will be writing a song specifically for Carlos Correa’s use this season. Royce Clayton has built a whole company around creating customized walk-up music for major leaguers.

So what constitutes a baseball player jam? To find out, I built the world’s most (un)important baseball related data set, aggregating every “Player Music” entry from MLB’s Team Music page, normalizing song and artist names where there were inconsistencies, removing player duplicates, and incorporating genre, using the highly scientific methodology of Google to fill in the gaps in my own musical knowledge. Not every team reported songs from every player. Some team pages featured extensive in-stadium playlists; other left their fans to fend for themselves between at-bats. Some of these songs may change before Opening Day. In all, 790 song selections from 586 pros were splashed across the internet for our praise or derision. While they represent different teams and cities, countries and backgrounds, some trends did emerge. The first? Baseball players love rap. Below are the genres representing at least 1 percent of total songs reported.

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Originally published: March 21, 2016. Last Updated: March 21, 2016.