A recent research report investigated the effect of travel on Major League Baseball teams and performance. The authors found the MLB teams traveling eastward, such as those ending a series in Seattle and starting traveling to their next one in Boston, had an impairment in performance.
They authors found that some offensive statistics decreased, but pitching performance was the most impacted. Pitchers traveling eastward with at least a 2-hour time difference allowed more home runs.
The results could be explained by the effect of jet-lag on the body’s circadian rhythms. This likely resulted in fatigue that could have reduced velocity and command.
In my experience with the Red Sox, we often times sent our next starting pitcher to the next city early to assure they could get a good night sleep and be prepared for the game the next day.
Based on this information, I think it’s easy to say that a good night sleep the night before a start is very important for your pitching performance.
How jet lag impairs Major League Baseball performance.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jan 23;:
Authors: Song A, Severini T, Allada R
Laboratory studies have demonstrated that circadian clocks align physiology and behavior to 24-h environmental cycles. Examination of athletic performance has been used to discern the functions of these clocks in humans outside of controlled settings. Here, we examined the effects of jet lag, that is, travel that shifts the alignment of 24-h environmental cycles relative to the endogenous circadian clock, on specific performance metrics in Major League Baseball. Accounting for potential differences in home and away performance, travel direction, and team confounding variables, we observed that jet-lag effects were largely evident after eastward travel with very limited effects after westward travel, consistent with the >24-h period length of the human circadian clock. Surprisingly, we found that jet lag impaired major parameters of home-team offensive performance, for example, slugging percentage, but did not similarly affect away-team offensive performance. On the other hand, jet lag impacted both home and away defensive performance. Remarkably, the vast majority of these effects for both home and away teams could be explained by a single measure, home runs allowed. Rather than uniform effects, these results reveal surprisingly specific effects of circadian misalignment on athletic performance under natural conditions.
PMID: 28115724 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]