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Keeping the Hitter Off Balance: Mixed Strategies in Baseball

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  • Weinstein-Gould Jesse

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

Mixed strategies are a key component of game theory. Investigations into whether or not people use optimal mixed strategies have largely been limited to laboratory settings and have produced mixed results. Recently, the empirical framework has been extended into professional sports. This study uses pitch-level data from Major League Baseball games to see if pitchers mix their pitches optimally. The scope of this study is limited to the first pitch of a plate appearance and finds that pitchers are mixing optimally to have success on the first pitch of the plate appearance, but the null hypothesis of optimal play for the plate appearance outcome is rejected.

Suggested Citation

  • Weinstein-Gould Jesse, 2009. "Keeping the Hitter Off Balance: Mixed Strategies in Baseball," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-20, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:5:y:2009:i:2:n:7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baumer Ben S, 2008. "Why On-Base Percentage is a Better Indicator of Future Performance than Batting Average: An Algebraic Proof," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-13, April.
    2. Arijit Mukherji & Kevin A. McCabe & David E. Runkle, 2000. "An experimental study of information and mixed-strategy play in the three-person matching-pennies game," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 15(2), pages 421-462.
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