Insomnia, baseball, fatigue, and performancePosted: March 18, 2017
The current time is 1:43 a.m., and as I endure my inability to sleep, I decided to Google “baseball insomnia.” One of the myriad items that came up in the search results was this 2013 article from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Studies link fatigue and sleep to MLB performance and career longevity.” The very first sentence of the article states, “Two new studies show that fatigue may impair strike-zone judgment during the 162 game Major League Baseball season, and a MLB player’s sleepiness can predict his longevity in the league.”
To which my initial reaction was, “Well, duh.”
But even as I continue to marvel at the seemingly obvious bits of common sense that prompt these kinds of studies, as I read, I had to admit that sometimes there is a benefit to it. In this case, while it seems like it would make perfect sense that fatigue and sleep would be an indicator of success in baseball, the real question becomes: what are teams doing to combat fatigue? For, as Scott Kutscher points out as a result of the study, “teams may be able to gain a competitive edge by focusing on fatigue management.”
It is, understandably, common for a team to want to play its best players day in and day out throughout the season. I would be curious to see a study on a player like, say, Cal Ripken that analyzes his performance in April of each season versus in September. I’m sure such a study exists (or something similar to it), I’d just have to make a point to look for it. Granted, Ripken’s consecutive games streak record would not exist now had Orioles management focused more on fatigue management, which would be a deprivation to the game as we know it today. Nevertheless, it is something to think about.