Changing It Up: Determining the Nash Equilibria for MLB pitchers

Accepted at American Behavioral Scientist

13 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2023 Last revised: 14 Nov 2023

See all articles by Dustin White

Dustin White

University of Nebraska at Omaha - Department of Economics

Ben Smith

University of Nebraska at Omaha - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 3, 2023

Abstract

In order to prevent batters from hitting a pitch, pitchers must decide on a strategic balance of many different pitch types. While each pitcher has preferred pitches (likely those with which he is most confident), he cannot over-utilize his dominant pitches, or batters will be able to gain a strategic advantage in trying to put the ball into play. We analyze the corpus of Major League Baseball (MLB) pitch data in order to determine whether or not MLB pitchers are able to reach the theorized mixed-strategy Nash equilibrium given the pitcher’s skill in utilizing each type of pitch. Our data suggests that MLB pitchers are incredibly rational, and succeed in reaching the mixed-strategy Nash Equilibrium.

Keywords: Baseball, Game Theory, Utility Maximization, Heuristics

JEL Classification: Z20, C73

Suggested Citation

White, Dustin and Smith, Ben, Changing It Up: Determining the Nash Equilibria for MLB pitchers (November 3, 2023). Accepted at American Behavioral Scientist, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4468187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4468187

Dustin White

University of Nebraska at Omaha - Department of Economics ( email )

College of Business Administration
60th and Dodge Streets
Omaha, NE 68182
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.dustinrwhite.com

Ben Smith (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Omaha - Department of Economics ( email )

College of Business Administration
60th and Dodge Streets
Omaha, NE 68182
United States

HOME PAGE: http://bensresearch.com

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