Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Workload Effects -- A Case Study About the author, Boyd Nation

Workload Effects -- A Case Study

Publication Date: October 15, 2002

What's a Case Study Worth?

I ran across an interesting case study this week in the course of looking into some questions from a reader, and it's so compelling that I wanted to share it with the rest of you. Before doing this, though, let's talk about what case studies are worth. There's an old saying that the singular of data is not anecdote. That's true, so it's important to remember that I'm not going to prove anything today. What a case study can do, though, is to clarify the general effects of a behavior by giving a specific example of the possible results of that behavior.

Specifically, for this week, I want to look at one of the prongs of why coaches should properly manage a pitcher's workload. The altruistic reason is that it's better for the pitcher's health and long-term career prospects. That's good, and most coaches pay at least lip service to that idea, but their short-term interest overrules that far too frequently. The other prong of the idea, though, is that properly managed pitchers perform better at the end of the season than do those who have been overused. Honoring that won't eliminate the postseason debacles, but it would get rid of much of the overuse that makes pitching in college such a crapshoot these days.

Steven White, Baylor, 2002

Date  IP   H  R  ER  NP  Opponent

2/08  6.7  5  2  1   89  Houston
2/15  5.0  7  5  5   79  Southern California
2/22  7.0  5  3  1  128  Oral Roberts
3/02  7.0  2  2  1   93  Texas
3/09  8.0  5  1  1  126  Nebraska
3/15  8.2  7  3  3  138  Kansas
3/22  6.0  9  4  4  109  Missouri
3/29  8.0  8  4  3  143  Oklahoma

4/05  5.0  8  7  7  113  Oklahoma State
4/12  4.0  6  1  1   82  TAMU-Corpus Christi
4/19  4.0  9  8  6   93  Texas A&M
4/27  4.1  9  6  6  101  Kansas State
5/04  5.2  5  1  1   89  Dallas Baptist
5/14  6.2  6  5  3  117  Houston
5/19  3.2  9  8  7   80  Texas Tech
6/01  1.1  4  5  0   42  Lamar

I'm going to just sit back and let the numbers tell the story here, with the one blank line to emphasize the point at which his season fell apart, whether due to injury or exhaustion (I don't know which off the top of my head, but either supports the notion of overwork equally well). Two more numbers: White's ERA before April 1 was 3.04 if I'm figuring correctly, and his ERA after April 1 was 8.04. After April 1, he had only two good outings, and those came against TAMU-CC and Dallas Baptist. Now, if you ask Steve Smith which half of the season he'd rather have a pitcher at his best for, I'm fairly sure he'd pick the latter half.

I'm not picking on Smith or White here; I'm sure I could find a dozen guys that fit this pattern if I took a couple of hours. I'm also sure I could find a few counterexamples, since we're dealing with the wide range of human physiology here. The reason we look at case studies, though, is to persuade, and if I were a college coach, I'd be thinking hard about being persuaded after looking at this.

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Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Workload Effects -- A Case Study About the author, Boyd Nation