Study: Jet lag limits baseball’s home field advantage

There may be less of a home field advantage in baseball than many fans think, and jet lag may be the reason.

A study of baseball players, who spend most of their summers in different time zones, finds that traveling eastward is more disruptive than going west. But it also found that home teams suffer more than visiting teams, the Associated Press reports.

Much of that was found in baserunning, according to a news release from Northwestern University.

“The effects are sufficiently large to erase the home field advantage,” Dr. Ravi Allada said of the study, which showed home teams returning from a road trip are particularly susceptible.

“If I were a baseball manager and my team was traveling across time zones — either to home or away — I would send my first starting pitcher a day or two ahead, so he could adjust his clock to the local environment,” Allada said.

The researchers used Major League Baseball data from 1992 to 2011.

Next season, baseball will usher in changes to player travel as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. The season will be extended by four days and the league will limit the number of consecutive games played in different cities.

Allada acknowledges to being a Chicago Cubs fan, a team that traveled east for Game 7 of the World Series and beat the home team.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • Mike Worcester

    I wonder if the way MLB schedules games now plays into this also. The unbalanced schedule brought an end to, at least for the Twins, those 9 – 11 game West Coast road trips, where they would play Seattle, Oakland, and California/LAA. Or the East Coast swing with Boston, New York, and Baltimore. The unbalance schedule scrambled all that.