Blake George, Tarleton State University

The Relationship of Body Mass and Body Height to the Athletic Performance of Baseball Pitchers

Abstract: Introduction: Among several observable characteristics that contribute to potential athletic success, height and weight are two desired features of baseball coaches, players, and scouts. Research analyzing anthropometric of professional level baseball (Rookie, A, AA, AAA, and MLB) athletes revealed Rookie and A players (lower professional levels) were significant leaner and had lower lean body mass (BM) than AA, AAA, and MLB players (higher professional levels) (Hoffman, Vazquez, Pichardo, & Tenenbaum, 2009).  Additionally, it has been reported that pitchers are statistically the tallest players among all baseball positions (Carda & Looney, 1994).  While previous studies indirectly imply that BM and body height (BH) are connected to pitching performance, no studies have investigated the specific relationship between BM and BH and in-game baseball pitching performance.  Therefore, analyzing the relationship between BM and BH and baseball pitching performance was the purpose of the current investigation.

Methods & Procedures: NCAA Division II pitchers (n = 10, age 20.2 ± 1.9 years) volunteered as study subjects.  BM (83.8 ± 10.3 kg) and BH (1.85 ± 0.48 m) measurements were collected prior to the beginning of the season.  Baseball pitching measures were obtained from regular season games (total games = 48), and included: Earned Runs Average, Win, Loss, Appearances, Games Started, Innings Pitched, Hits, Runs, Earned Runs, Base on Balls, Strike Outs, and Opponent Batting Average.  The following pitching measures were normalized for innings pitched: Hits, Runs, Earned Runs, Base on Balls, and Strike Outs.  Pearson-product moment correlation coefficient (p < .05) was employed to determine the relationship between BM and BH and pitching performance.

Result: Analysis identified BM of baseball pitchers was statistically significant correlations (p < 0.05) to Wins (r = 0.68; p < .05) and Games Started (r = 0.75; p < .05).  The remaining pitching performance variables were not statistically correlated with BM.  No statistically significant correlation was exposed between BH and pitching performance.

Conclusion: Increasing pitching performance is a common goal among baseball coaches, scouts, and players.  Contradictory to the common perception that taller pitcher are more effective, the result revealed no statistical advantage to increased BH of pitchers.  However, the finding of the current study align with the literate that revealed a positive relationship between BM and elite level (AA, AAA, and MLB) baseball pitchers.  Noteworthy, the maximum body mass index for pitchers was 28.97 (overweight); no subjects were classified as class I obese or class II obese.  Although the specifics are unclear, excessive mass may be counterproductive for pitching performance.  Further research is needed to establish a specific mass threshold that may negatively influence pitching performance.  In conclusion, these results suggest that baseball scouts should concentrate on recruiting pitchers with elevated BM, coaches should employ strength and conditioning training programs designed to increase BM of the pitching staff, and players competing for pitching innings should work to increase personal BM levels.

Presentation Author(s):
Blake George*

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