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Sports (Basel). 2016 Feb 25;4(1). pii: E14. doi: 10.3390/sports4010014.

A Description and Comparison of Cardiorespiratory Fitness Measures in Relation to Pitching Performance Among Professional Baseball Pitchers.

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Athletic Performance, Houston Rockets, Houston, TX 77002, USA.
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO 80918, USA.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA.
A.T. Still University, Kirksville, MO 63501, USA.
Athletic Heart Research Institute, Orlando, FL, 32801, USA.
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74074, USA.
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 21941-901, Brazil.
A.T. Still University, Kirksville, MO 63501, USA.


The purpose of this study is to provide descriptive and comparative information regarding the cardiorespiratory fitness of professional baseball pitchers. Twenty-four (n = 24) major league (ML) baseball pitchers (starters n = 14; relievers n = 10) over seven seasons (2007⁻2013) were evaluated. A modified Bruce protocol and the CardioCoach™ CO₂ metabolic analyzer were used to estimate VO2 max and anaerobic threshold (AT) at the beginning of each season. Performance data from each season was utilized to draw inference about pitching performance. One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to compare Starting (S) and Relief (R) pitchers above/below the group mean for VO2 max and AT. Pearson product moment correlations were also used to examine relationships between cardiorespiratory fitness and performance. Significant differences in performance were discovered between S pitchers above/below the overall group mean for VO2 max. (p ≤ 0.05) and for AT in Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP) (p ≤ 0.05) and Earned Run Average (ERA) (p ≤ 0.05). Significant relationships between VO2 max and Walks per 9 Innings (BB/9) (p ≤ 0.05), Home Runs per 9 innings (HR/9) (p ≤ 0.05), Wins (W) (p ≤ 0.05), Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) (p ≤ 0.01), Strikeouts (K) (p ≤ 0.01), Hits per 9 innings (H/9) (p ≤ 0.01), Strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) (p ≤ 0.01), ERA (p ≤ 0.01), and WHIP (p ≤ 0.01). Low, but significant, correlations were discovered between AT and WHIP (p ≤ 0.05) and ERA (≤0.05).


Higher aerobic capacity appears to be more influential for S than R pitchers. Strength and conditioning practitioners should ensure that pitchers, especially S pitchers at the ML level, perform sufficient and appropriate endurance training to support pitching performance.


VO2 max; conditioning; endurance; performance; pitching

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