Photo: CSN Chicago/MLB.com
Whether it’s the Oakland A’s putting more emphasis on on-base percentage than other teams, or the Tampa Bay Rays using radical infield alignments, baseball teams are always looking for the latest inefficiency to gain an edge.The latest tactic making the rounds: baseball teams tracking players’ sleeping patterns to get the most out of them on a day-to-day basis.
A new study by sleep specialist Dr. William Winter suggests regulating and improving the sleep patterns of players can be a huge boon for MLB teams, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Dr. Winter, who consults with a few teams but says most just scoff at his suggestions, surveyed 40 random players in 2009. By 2011 15 of the 40 players were out of the game, which was in line with regular attrition rates. But more than 75 per cent of the players in the study who said they were “excessively sleepy” during the day were out of baseball by 2011.
Making sure your employees are getting enough sleep in order to increase output may sound rather obvious to most. Baseball teams, however, have to deal with gruelling travel schedules, playing games virtually every day for six months or more, and playing early day games after night games.
Getting enough sleep is key to muscle and tissue recovery because that’s when the body creates human growth hormone (HGH). Seeing as MLB now vigorously tests players for steroids and artificial HGH, Dr. Winter argues a good night’s sleep could hold the key for many teams that can’t quite keep up with some of the game’s big spenders.
“It might be a new Moneyball situation. Steroids are now off the table, and teams are desperate for an advantage. Teams are now looking more at exercise, diet, and health. Most teams now have dieticians, but the sleep thing is relatively new.”
The idea that sleep is important to player performance goes hand-in-hand with Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane’s recent assertion that baseball’s next inefficiency is finding a way to keep everyone healthy for a full season.
One small market club tracking its players’ sleeping patterns are the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates’ trainer tracks each player’s sleep pattern to determine if he is a “night owl” or “early bird” and provides this information to the manager and his coaching staff so they can make more informed decisions about who to play and when.
There’s no precise way of quantifying how this may be helping the Pirates, but they are off to a surprising 34-31 start and find themselves a mere half game out of a playoff spot.
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