One of the more striking finds in the new study, he says, was that jet lag significantly impacted both home and away team pitchers' ability to prevent home runs.
So those L.A.to NY red-eyes really could take a toll, as it turns out.
The discovery that jet-lagged visiting teams perform better than jet-lagged home teams came as a surprise to the researchers. Westward travel could still actually have a negative impact on performance, but that seems to have more to do with the team playing at a different time of day than what they were used to, meaning they weren't as physically optimized for that game.
Among the findings, which were released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was that traveling from west to east, takes more of a toll on the body than east to west.
In the meantime, we can consider scheduling East Coast-bound flights with extra cushion for recovery upon landing.
For the study, Allada looked at 46,535 Major League Baseball games played between 1992 and 2011, finding 4919 instances of teams playing with at least two hours of jet lag. "And the circadian clock is present in muscle cells, too, so it makes sense that one might see an impairment in muscle activity or muscle efficiency, as a result of this misalignment".
The researchers said they had no explanation for why teams were more hampered by jet lag at home than when they played elsewhere.
For the hundreds of Major League Baseball players, jet lag is an inescapable part of the sport. "The negative effects of jet lag we found are subtle, but they are detectable and significant".
Jet lag, which is essentially the "desynchronizing" of our internal clocks via high-speed travel, messes with your sleep cycle and energy levels, but also has less commonly known effects on systems like digestion and motor control. "If I were a baseball manager and my team was traveling across time zones - either to home or away - I would send my first starting pitcher a day or two ahead, so he could adjust his clock to the local environment".
But when looking at teams that had to first travel eastward to play those home games, that advantage disappeared. However, after traveling through time zones, home teams saw their winning percentage drop by 3.5%. They also apparently were battling jet lag. In terms of actual numbers, jet lag-induced home runs resulted in increases between 0.1 and 0.2 runs per game.
The study was published January 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The negative effects on the home team's offense were related to base running, such as stolen bases, number of doubles and triples, and hitting into more double plays.
If your schedule won't allow for an earlier trip, he recommends faking it for a few days by trying to wake up and go to bed according to the time-zone of your event, even while you're still at home. For example, each team's 162-game regular season schedule will be played over 187 days, up from 183. If you're traveling west-to-east, exposing yourself to bright light earlier in the morning can help, as well.
When Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw allowed five runs in Game 6 of the NLCS, his disappointing outing was largely attributed to some combination of the Chicago Cubs' powerful lineup and the general unpredictability of baseball. But when Kershaw returned from Los Angeles to face them again, the Cubs hit him hard, including two home runs.
The researchers collected data from 1992 to 2011, and analyzed the performance stats from 46,535 games.