Do Pitchers Mix Their Pitches Optimally?

by Jesse Weinstein-Gould


Mixed strategies are a key component of game theory. Investigations into whether or not people use optimal mixed strategies has been largely limited to laboratory settings and has produced mixed results. Recently, the empirical framework has been extended into professional sports. Separate studies have found that professional tennis and soccer players use Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibria when choosing which side of the service box to serve to and which side of the goal to kick to. This study uses pitch-type data to examine whether or not pitchers use their optimal mixed strategy. Further, this study looks at characteristics of the pitcher, hitter, catcher, and team to determine what leads certain pitchers to use a Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium while others do not.


Jesse Weinstein-Gould is a senior economics major at Stanford University. He has worked in statistics for the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City, and spent this past summer doing statistical analysis for the Philadelphia Eagles. Jesse has also published work previously in the area of football statistics.

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