On the Distribution of Career Longevity and the Evolution of Home Run Prowess in Professional Baseball

Europhysics Letters, 2008

5 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2011  

Alexander Michael Petersen

University of California Merced, Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program

Woo-Sung Jung

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

H. Eugene Stanley

Boston University - Center for Polymer Studies

Date Written: September 1, 2008

Abstract

Statistical analysis is a major aspect of baseball, from player averages to historical benchmarks and records. Much of baseball fanfare is based around players exceeding the norm, some in a single game and others over a long career. Career statistics serve as a metric for classifying players and establishing their historical legacy. However, the concept of records and benchmarks assumes that the level of competition in baseball is stationary in time. Here we show that power law probability density functions, a hallmark of many complex systems that are driven by competition, govern career longevity in baseball. We also find similar power laws in the density functions of all major performance metrics for pitchers and batters. The use of performance-enhancing drugs has a dark history, emerging as a problem for both amateur and professional sports. We find statistical evidence consistent with performance-enhancing drugs in the analysis of home runs hit by players in the last 25 years. This is corroborated by the findings of the Mitchell Report (2007), a two-year investigation into the use of illegal steroids in Major League Baseball, which recently revealed that over 5 percent of Major League Baseball players tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in an anonymous 2003 survey.

Keywords: Major League Baseball, Performance Enhancing Drugs, PED, Career Longevity, Success Metrics

JEL Classification: D39, J24, J44, L83

Suggested Citation

Petersen, Alexander Michael and Jung, Woo-Sung and Stanley, H. Eugene, On the Distribution of Career Longevity and the Evolution of Home Run Prowess in Professional Baseball (September 1, 2008). Europhysics Letters, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1889444

Alexander Michael Petersen (Contact Author)

University of California Merced, Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program ( email )

School of Engineering
Science & Engineering 2, Suite 315
Merced, CA 95343
United States

Woo-Sung Jung

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) ( email )

77 Cheongam-ro
Pohang
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

H. Eugene Stanley

Boston University - Center for Polymer Studies ( email )

Boston, MA 02215
United States

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