Hey, how about those Jays?
Okay, I admit I am not a baseball fan. I may have a bias (or two) when it comes to baseball, but I am glad to know that I am not the only one that noticed that baseball players seemed to be getting much larger lately.
Penn State researchers recently tracked the weight of baseball players. They looked at stats for the last 145 years and they found that since 1991 baseball players have been gaining weight. A lot of weight. For 100 years the weight of baseball players was fairly consistent, with their Body Mass Index (BMI) in the normal range of 18.5- 24.9, but after 1991 they started gaining weight. Now 80% of major league players are classified as obese. BMI is not the best indicator of health, but in the last 25 years the size of baseball players has increased substantially.
Why would being overweight be an advantage?
There is one advantage to being bigger, you can hit the ball with more force. Bigger players can hit more home runs. Home runs are money makers, for the players and the team. Player’s contracts are often back loaded, with the most money being paid out at the end of a good season. BTW, the Blue Jays tend to sign young players for long term contracts before they can demand large salaries and maybe some stats junkie would like to tell me if Blue Jays players are smaller than ones on teams that pay the big salaries.
2016 is on track to having the most home runs hit ever, in a single season, since mandatory drug testing began in 2006. Being able to hit a home run also means you aren’t going to have to sprint around the bases. So it makes sense, if you are bigger, to practice hitting and hitting hard, to still be an effective player and reduce the need to run. It’s no surprise that the players that tend to weigh the most are designated hitters.
Why does this matter? Athletes, from all sports, should still be physically fit and healthy. The rise in weight reflects the increase in the general population in North America. In the US 71% of adults over the age of 20 are overweight or obese.
Maybe I am the only one, but I expect more from professional sports. What do you think?
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