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March 27, 2013

BIG-LEAGUE Bonus babies?

Month they were born crucial for baseball players

Baseball is a game of stats: ERA (earned run average), BA (batting average) and more recently OBPs (on-base percentage). Perhaps we should add BDY. What’s a BDY you ask? A player’s birthday.

What’s in a player’s birthday? More than you can imagine.

As the Red Sox begin their journey to build what GM Ben Cherington says is their next great team, we will feverishly dissect whether upcoming prospects are fast enough, hit well enough, throw hard enough and can handle the pressures of playing in Boston.

But perhaps what we should really be checking is when were they born?

A quick look at the Red Sox website shows that there are currently 233 players in spring training camp in Fort Myers from the Major League 40-man roster to their Dominican Rookie League team.

Of those, 116 were born in 1990 or later, and 117 were born in 1989 or earlier. One-hundred and fifty-six, or 66 percent, were born between April and October. Only 16, or less than seven percent were born in January and February combined, compared to 50, or 21 percent, who were born in the combined months of August and September.

A statistical quirk isolated only to the Red Sox, you ask? Nope.

That’s the case across the majors.

From the advent of Little League in the 1950s, up until 2006, youth baseball in America used a July 31 cutoff date in determining the playing level of a child.

So for instance in 1972, a child born on July 31, 1960 would be considered a 12-year-old in Little League play, while a child born on August 1, 1960 would be considered an 11-year-old.

Though only separated by one day, the “11-year-old” gains an entire year of physical maturity in youth play, one that statistics show will overwhelmingly enhance his chances of: being selected for Little League all-star teams, making the high school varsity team, being recruited by colleges, and ultimately getting drafted.

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