HOW JET LAG AFFECTS BASEBALL GAMES. Nick sent me this article by George Dvorsky on the Gizmodo site about the effects of jet lag on the performance of baseball players. The article reports on a study by Ravi Allada and colleagues published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A major finding was that on average a team traveling from east to west performs better than it does when it is moving from west to east.
The study takes advantage of a a natural experiment generated in the course of the six month long season, with frequent trips across two or three time zones. Allada looked at 46,535 major league games played between 1992 and 2011, finding 4,919 instances of teams playing with at least two hours of jet lag. What makes the data set particularly useful is that baseball has many precise measures of performance—runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage. All the statistics that baseball fans love.
I have always felt that jet lag is worse going west to east as opposed to east to west, which seems relatively easy, so it’s interesting to see data that confirms subjective impressions: “Allada’s group found that the winning percentages of MLB teams suffered when athletes have to travel eastwards, but that effects were very limited following westward travel.”
Note that, unlike some studies which are based on small samples, the analysis here examined almost 5000 baseball games that involved a two hour jet lag.