Are Pink Bats a Performance Enhancer: Year Three of An Extremely Important Study

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Mother’s Day, the day when we call home, send flowers, and, most importantly, watch ballplayers step to the plate with all manner of pink accessories to raise money to fight breast cancer.  

For the two years that I’ve been counting, we’ve seen the pink bat users out perform their non-pink-bat-using teammates. But with only two years of data, can we really consider the case closed? Of course not. One more year should do the trick. 

Here are the previous two years of data (I can only hope some Major League team has an advanced version of this): 

2011

Pink Bats: 685 AB, 193 H, .285 BA, 15 HR, 85 RBI, 84 R

Non-Pink: 287 AB, 42 H,  .216 BA, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 31 R

2012

Pink Bats: 402 AB, 122 H, .303 AVG, 8 HR, 59 RBI, 68 R, 40 BB, 92 SO

Non-Pink: 576 AB, 153 H, .266, 18 HR, 82 RBI, 85 R, 70 BB, 114 SO

But this year, a whole new twist was added with, in addition to the wristbands, cleats, and other accessories available, Major League Baseball used balls with pink stitching.

There was also some controversy with players like Nick Markakis and Trevor Plouffe being barred from using their pink Max Bats because Louisville Slugger is the exclusive pink bat on Mother’s Day. (At least in this case, Louisville Slugger was given exclusivity in exchange for a sizable donation to the Susan G. Komen foundation).

That said, here are the ground rules: 

  • These numbers do not take into account players wearing pink accessories, only their bats.
  • I counted the starting nine on each team, so any pink bat swinging pinch-hitters or late-game substitutions have been left out.
  • If a player used a pink bat in his first at-bat, but later changed it out for his standard model, unfortunately we must count that as a pink bat user.
  • I used MLB.tv footage as my guide, so if I couldn’t tell the color of a players bat, I considered it a non-pink bat. 
  • Due to time constraints and my manually inputting data into an excel grid, I have only used hits, at-bats, home runs, RBI, runs scored, walks, and strikeouts as my guide. This year, I also kept track of extra-base hits so I can factor in slugging percentage.
  • BBs were included, HBP were not, so OBP will not match official numbers. 
  • Starting pitchers are included because pitchers swinging at baseballs is awesome. 
  • As with any undertaking like this, the possibility for input errors are MASSIVE. So, if you catch any mistakes, updates and corrections can be sent here or left in the comments.

Our findings: 

Pink Bats: 318 AB, 72 H, .226/.295/.358, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 30 R, 31 BB, 70 SO

Non-Pink Bats: 642 AB, 157 H, .245/.300/.408, 23 HR, 67 RBI, 72 R, 51 BB, 133 SO

Notes: 

  • For the first time ever, the non-pink bat users beat the pinko commies and not by a particularly close margin, either. However, neither group should feel particularly proud of their performance.
  • There were the fewest pink bat-using starters yet, with only 89 pink bat swingers, down from 187 in 2011 and 105 in 2012. 
  • There was not a standout pink bat user, either. Among the best hitters, there was Marco Scutaro (2-for-5, 1 HR, 1 2B), Pablo Sandoval (2-4, 1 HR), Robinson Cano (2-4, 1 HR), and Clint Barmes (2-4, 1 HR). There were no pink bat multi-home run games. 
  • The only pink bat users to record three hits were Elvis Andrus and Leury Garcia against the Astros. Not surprisingly, the Rangers won the game. (The duo combined for 6 hits and 6 runs scored.) 
  • No pink bat users hit a triple. 2 non-pink bat users did. 
  • On the Braves, only the Upton brothers swung pink bats. It’s a family thing, I guess. Though they combined to go 0-for-7 with 1 BB, and 4 K. 
  • The Athletics had only two players (Brandon Moss, Michael Taylor) use pink bats. They combined to go 0-for-8 with 6 strikeouts. 
  • The Indians lead all teams with eight pink bat starters, the Pirates and Mets were second with six, and the Giants, Rangers, and Orioles were all next with five. Not surprisingly, those teams all won their games, except for the Mets who faced the equally pinked-out Pirates. 
  • Two teams (Rockies, Blue Jays) used zero pink bats. Sadly, they also won. 
  • UPDATE: As pointed out by @mightympls, Trevor Plouffe went ahead and used his black Max Bat with pink logo despite MLB’s wishes. However, because 99% of his bat was black otherwise, it’s still a non pink bat. Photo proof: 

While there seems to be more attention paid to the use of pink bats, the numbers continue to go down. But I could simply be mis-remembering previous years coverage. It also seemed that many “big name” players (which is a nebulous term to start with as my definition compared to yours could be very different) opted out. Case in point: Brian Dozier, pink bat user, Joe Mauer, not a pink bat guy. Whether that’s because these stars have deals with non-Louisville Slugger bat-makers, they decided to wear pink cleats or gloves instead this year, or if they forgot to order the lumber, I really couldn’t say. 

As for why pink bat offense was down, it means either one of three things: 

  1. There really were more star-caliber players who didn’t use the bats. 
  2. This is just random variation and we should be more surprised that pink bat users were better in both 2011 and 2012. 
  3. The use of pink-stitched baseballs created an anti-matter vacuum when they came into contact with pink bats. 

The one thing I can say for sure: for the players who opted out of swinging some pink lumber, I hope you at least called your mothers after the game. 

And now, after the jump, individual team pink bat users: 

Arizona Diamondbacks: 

Martin Prado: 0-for-5, 2 K

Atlanta Braves: 

Justin Upton: 0-for-4, 2 K

BJ Upton: 0-for-3, 1 BB, 2 K

Baltimore Orioles: 

Adam Jones: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K

Chris Davis: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K

Steve Pearce: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI

JJ Hardy: 2-for-4, 1 R

Boston Red Sox:

Stephen Drew: 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K

Chicago Cubs: 

Dioner Navarro: 2-for-3, 1 K

Chicago White Sox:

Alejandro De Aza: 0-for-4, 1 K

Alex Rios: 1-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 2B

Jeff Keppinger: 0-for-4

Cincinnati Reds:

Shin-Soo Choo: 0-for-3, 1 BB

Zack Cozart: 0-for-4

Brandon Phillips: 1-for-4, 1 R

Cleveland Indians: 

Michael Brantley: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB

Jason Kipnis: 1-for-4, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 2B

Asdrubal Cabrera: 1-for-4, 1 BB

Nick Swisher: 0-for-5, 2 K

Carlos Santana: 0-for-4, 1 BB, 1 R, 2 K

Ryan Raburn: 0-for-2, 1 K

Lonnie Chisenhall: 0-for-3, 1 BB, 2 K

Drew Stubbs: 0-for-3, 3 K

Colorado Rockies: 

Nobody. Not a soul. 

Detroit Tigers: 

Andy Dirks: 1-for-4, 1 BB, 1 K

Torii Hunter: 2-for-5, 1 K

Victor Martinez: 0-for-5, 3 K

Don Kelly: 1-for-3, 1 BB

Houston Astros: 

Carlos Pena: 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 R

Jose Altuve: 1-for-3

Chris Carter: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K

Kansas City Royals: 

Alcides Escobar: 0-for-3, 1 RBI

Alex Gordon: 2-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 2B

Salvador Perez: 1-for-4

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Josh Hamilton: 0-for-3

Brendan Harris: 0-for-3, 2 K

Los Angeles Dodgers: 

Andrea Ethier: 0-for-3, 1 RBI

Miami Marlins: 

Juan Pierre: 0-for-4, 1 K

Adeiny Hechavarria: 1-for-4, 2 RBI, 1 K

Milwaukee Brewers: 

Norichika Aoki: 0-for-4, 1 K

Yuniesky Betancourt: 2-for-4, 1 2B

Logan Schafer: 0-for-2, 1 K

Wily Peralta: 0-for-2, 1 K

Minnesota Twins: 

Brian Dozier: 1-for-4, 1 K

Wilkin Ramirez: 1-for-4, 1 K

New York Mets: 

Ruben Tejada: 0-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K

Daniel Murphy: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 K

Ike Davis: 0-for-4, 2 K

John Buck: 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 R, 2 K

Mike Baxter: 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Matt Harvey: 0-for-2, 1 K

New York Yankees: 

Robinson Cano: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI

Lyle Overbay: 0-for-4, 1 K

Chris Stewart: 2-for-3, 1 R

Oakland Athletics: 

Brandon Moss: 0-for-4, 4 K

Michael Taylor: 0-for-4, 2 K

Philadelphia Phillies: 

Ben Revere: 0-for-3, 1 K

Jimmy Rollins: 1-for-5, 1 R, 1 K

Erik Kratz: 0-for-3, 1 K

Pittsburgh Pirates: 

Starling Marte: 0-for-3, 2 BB, 1 R, 1 K

Garrett Jones: 0-for-2, 1 RBI

Jordy Mercer: 0-for-3

Pedro Alvarez: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 K

Clint Barmes: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI

Jeanmar Gomez: 0-for-2, 1 K

San Diego Padres:

Yonder Alonso: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 K

Alexi Amarista: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K

San Francisco Giants:

Marco Scutaro: 2-for-5, 1 HR, 1 2B, 1 RBI

Pablo Sandoval: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Buster Posey: 1-for-4, 1 BB

Gregor Blanco: 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 BB

Brandon Crawford: 2-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Seattle Mariners:

Jason Bay: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI

Michael Morse: 2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 K

Justin Smoak: 0-for-3, 1 BB, 2 K

Jesus Montero: 1-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 K

St. Louis Cardinals: 

Jon Jay: 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 K

Jaime Garcia: 0-for-2, 1 K

Tampa Bay Rays: 

Ryan Roberts: 0-for-4, 1 K

Kelly Johnson: 0-for-1, 3 BB, 1 K

Ben Zobrist: 1-for-3

Evan Longoria: 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 2 R

Texas Rangers:

Elvis Andrus: 3-for-4, 2 BB, 2 R

Leury Garcia: 3-for-6, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 4 R

Lance Berkman: 1-for-5, 2 RBI, 1 2B

Mitch Moreland: 1-for-4, 1 BB, 1 K

Craig Gentry: 1-for-5, 1 RBI, 1 R

Toronto Blue Jays:

Nobody. 

Washington Nationals:

Denard Span: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 R

Ryan Zimmerman: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 K

 

 

  1. kylegreggy reblogged this from oldtimefamilybaseball
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  3. dude117wotc said: Very interesting study. I wonder if it’s just pink bats or if possibly results would be similar with say red bats or green bats
  4. leslieeaves reblogged this from oldtimefamilybaseball
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  9. falllingforward said: Impressive research!
  10. oldtimefamilybaseball posted this
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