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Baseball players do not do the whole game theory thing

Feb 18, 2010, 5:50 PM EDT

Apparently baseball players throw too many fastballs.  It will take smarter people than I am to figure out if this Means Something or it’s merely interesting.  It’s been a long day, however, and at this point interesting is enough for me:

In the case of baseball, we observe every pitch thrown in the major
leagues over the period 2002-2006 – a total of more than 3 million
pitches. For football, we observe every play in the National Football League for the years 2001-2005 – over 125,000 plays . . . The results obtained from analyzing the football and baseball data are
quite similar. In both cases, we find clear deviations from minimax
play, as evidenced by a failure to equalize expected payoffs across
different actions played as part of mixed strategies, and with respect
to negative serial correlation in actions . . .  In baseball, pitchers appear to throw too many fastballs,
i.e., batters systematically have better outcomes when thrown fastballs
versus any other type of pitch.

Game theory, schmame theory. Maybe ballplayers just want to give him the heat and announce their presence with authority. Didja ever think of that? And maybe those suckers simply teed off on ’em like they knew they were gonna throw a fastball.

Oh . . .

(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)

  1. Jonny5 - Feb 18, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    LMAO!!!! Hahaha! Yeah, because baseball players aren’t smart enough to learn what they can throw with how many decades of history to draw on. Right……… What this monkey behind a keyboard doesn’t take into account is, well, it’s because it is baseball, not football dummy

  2. Jberardi - Feb 18, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    “In baseball, pitchers appear to throw too many fastballs…”
    Don’t worry. Just wait for Jason Varitek to retire and those numbers will even right out…

  3. Nick O - Feb 18, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    I’m sure a large part of the reason is curveballs and other breaking pitches put a lot more strain on the arm than throwing fastballs.

  4. Joey B - Feb 19, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    “I’m sure a large part of the reason is curveballs and other breaking pitches put a lot more strain on the arm than throwing fastballs.”
    I’d have thought this was too obvious to even post. There was a BA SP about 20-25 years ago in the early days of FA who had a huge season and signed for the LAD for big money. When his arm went poof, he later said that he threw twice as many curves as usual in his last season with BA.
    I’d also add that the frequency is what might make it more hittable. I’d bet that if they threw the curve ball 60% of the time, it would become much easier to hit, and the FB tougher.

  5. YX - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    “Flying metal? What idiots!”
    At least go to wikipedia and find out what the heck game theory is first before commenting would be nice.
    Or I’m just ranting because I spent my sophomore year stuck working on Min-Max / alpha-beta pruning projects.

  6. Alex - Feb 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    “I’m sure a large part of the reason is curveballs and other breaking pitches put a lot more strain on the arm than throwing fastballs.”
    also, for a majority of pitchers the fastball is the only pitch they can control and throw for strikes with any kind of regularity. That’s why even major league hitters are told to always sit on the fastball

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  8. Logitech Trackball - Feb 20, 2010 at 8:50 AM

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  9. Logitech Trackball - Feb 20, 2010 at 9:39 AM

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