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Researchers: guys with short, wide faces hit more homers

Apr 19, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT


Sounds like phrenology to me, but what do I know. I have a bachelor of arts degree:

Tucked into the latest edition of Biology Letters, among articles on emperor penguin surface temperatures and predator-prey size relationship, is a study that suggests that the shape of your face may indicate whether you’d make a good power hitter.

University of London researchers Hikaru Tsujimura and Michael J. Banissy tracked nearly 200 Japanese players in one of that country’s two pro baseball leagues over the course of two seasons and found that players with short, wide faces tended to have higher-than-average home run numbers.

There’s even a sabr-sounding stat for it: fWHR, or acial width-to-height ratio. Which, even though it was created and researched by university psychologists, will likely cause a bunch of old school baseball columnists to use it to mock statheads. Tell me you’d be surprised if you read this one morning:

Some stat-obsessed researchers in Japan (who knew they had research labs in mothers’ basements?) have determined that guys with short, wide faces hit a lot of homers. Hope no one tells them about [Player with long, skinny face who hit a big home run the night before], because it’d be a shame if all of their research went to waste.

Actually, I doubt if we have to wait until some skinny guy hits a homer. I bet someone uses this stuff as a launchpad for an anti-science, anti-stats rant. Because, hey, it’s just the sports pages.

Anyway, this kind of thing is fun, even if it has even a remotely identifiable practical application.

  1. chacochicken - Apr 19, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Case study #1 The Sultan of Swat
    Just look at that face!

    Case study #2 My man Hack

  2. schlemealsschlimazel - Apr 19, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    In other news, the Marlins have sent scouts to get a better look at Stewie Griffin.

    • Ralph - Apr 19, 2013 at 8:52 AM

      Oh, you must have missed it. They signed him to a lucrative contract last night and then traded him away this morning.

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM

        Damnit to the bloody bowels of hell!

  3. paperlions - Apr 19, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    I’d like to see some correlations of face shape metrics with shoulder and hip width metrics. I’m willing to bet that face shape is just an effective proxy of body type (not shocking, really), and that guys with wider faces have builds that are more conducive to producing the necessary torque to generate both bat speed and power….leading to more HRs.

    Man, a Biology Letters reference on HBT… worlds colliding.

    • cur68 - Apr 19, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      Probably throw in a muscle mass stat as well with the shoulder/hip ratio, but I think your reasoning is solid.

      • paperlions - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        True, there is probably a correlation between width and 1) muscle fiber length, longer muscles = faster muscles, and2) muscle mass due to increased surface area for attachment.

        An alternative explanation is that guys with thinner/longer faces have more grit, and gritty players don’t hit HR and lope around the bases…there is no grittiness in that…they have to slap the ball on the ground and hustle and get dirty.

      • cur68 - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        So THAT’S what Justin Upton did wrong!

      • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        Do you think these are the same researchers who found that women prefer men with wider faces?

      • paperlions - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        Might be. Chicks dig the long ball.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:57 PM


  4. gza385 - Apr 19, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    Coming soon… Moneyball 2: Face of the Franchise

  5. Detroit Michael - Apr 19, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Now in this post-Moneyball world, scouts can return to evaluating a player based on whether he has a good face.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      Is that an eye test or are they going to actually break out some equipment for that?

  6. brewcrewfan54 - Apr 19, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    No wonder I used to hit so many homers when we were playing wallball as kids.

  7. historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    I might have been inclined to care more about science as a youngster, if they let us work on random cool stuff like this…but, no.

    • heyblueyoustink - Apr 19, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      No science kit when you were a kid with the frog in fromaldahyde and such? I mean I grew up close to dirt poor and I had one of them. And sea monkeys.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        No, we did the frog dissection at school and all that, but honestly, I found that kind of thing boring. I never could understand the point of doing experiments from our book when the answers were there. I am probably more inclined to practical applications too. But, in all candor, for a variety of reasons, I was always more fascinated by people than things.

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 19, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        Aside from the three livers, I found the frog to be drab myself. it was the other stuff in the kit that spurned me in that direction for a period of time.

        Ironically, it was my fascination with people that ultimately lead me to a path off that science direction career wise, but it’s good to understand why things work. I think that’s part of a societal problem I could drone on for days with: we’re a how and now kind of people, but not enough “why” asking in the crowd.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        That was precisely my problem: I always wanted to know why — and that included “Why am I pointlessly reproducing this assigned experiment?” lol It used to drive my dad crazy that I was always asking why. It makes me really good at history though (which I wasn’t much interested in as a kid either).

  8. BigBeachBall - Apr 19, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    kids across the country are frantically measuring their faces with rulers right now… true story.

  9. Bryz - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    If Craig is right, then Luis Gonzalez may be used in a column “debunking” these findings sometime shortly.

  10. scoocha - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Don’t forget steroids too. They help.

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