When you watch an MLB game, you are forced to notice that the players are quite large compared to other sports such as soccer, ice hockey, tennis, etc.
This isn’t something new as it has always been so. However, obese and overweight baseball players have increased year after year. This is also shown by a study that measured 145 years of self-reported data from nearly 18,000 professional baseball players. The study indicates that over 70% of MLB players have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of an overweight or obese person and that the normal weight decreased from 60% to 20%.
To, why are baseball players overweight? Many baseball players are fat because their training program is focused on gaining strength instead of endurance. To gain strength, the players need to gain muscle mass gained by being in a constant calorie surplus.
While you gain muscle by eating more than you consume daily, you are forced to gain some fat if you don’t measure everything carefully. This easily leads to large fat gains, and when the players do it for years, it will start to show and feel.
In the modern days, there is a growing obesity problem, especially in the United States, and baseball players aren’t magically immune to it.
As the study showed that over 70% of professional baseball players have the BMI of an overweight or obese person, it certainly shows.
Although, the body mass index isn’t an accurate way to measure whether a person is, in fact, fat. BMI doesen’t recognize whether the body is more muscular or fat, as it measures the ratio between weight and height.
In today’s world, where high protein meals, intense workouts, steroids, and things like that are more seen than ever, the BMI can be very misleading in some cases. However, it points you in the right direction.
Now, let’s take a closer look at why baseball players are fat and the different factors.
Why Are Baseball Players Fat?
Generally, three factors have a big impact on why baseball players are overweight and more fat than in other sports. These are the same reasons why softball players are thick in many cases.
1. Sport’s nature
In baseball, every player has a specific position when on defense. There are nine baseball players on the field, and a baseball field is only so big. Therefore, each player doesen’t require much endurance to perform well in the sport.
Baseball is filled with long breaks as the ball won’t come to each player in a single at-bat, so endurance isn’t required. The players require powerful throwing arms, accuracy, and catching skills. In addition, when the team is on offense, a powerful swing is more important than anything.
When you compare baseball to other sports such as soccer or ice hockey filled with excruciating sprints all game long, you can see why it affects the player’s body.
This takes us to the training program that varies drastically, as the sport’s nature is so different.
As mentioned, baseball players need to train for strength and the more technical aspects of the sport. This takes a lot of time, and it’s taken at the expense and neglect of endurance and aesthetics. This is more than understandable because you don’t need them to play baseball, even at the professional level.
You need to catch well, swing like a maniac, throw with extreme accuracy and power, and have a smart game IQ to be a great baseball player. Cardio, endurance running, and other forms of training that slice the fat and sculpt one’s body aren’t included in the baseball training programs.
Have you ever heard the phrase that ”your body is built in the kitchen, not at the gym” or, in this case, a baseball field? Or the one saying that ”weight loss is 80% diet and 20% training”? This may sound extreme, but you can better believe it’s true.
It’s much easier to create a 500-calorie deficit by not eating than by running on the treadmill. However, the goal of baseball players isn’t to burn fat at a fast pace because it will often eat some of the muscles in the process. This, of course, would create strength loss which is catastrophic in baseball as one would swing and throw slower.
For strength purposes, you need to eat and feed your muscles in the kitchen. Because of the often large surplus of calories and the lack of fat-burning exercise, baseball players gain fat more than other sports.
In addition, baseball players doesen’t have a nutrition degree or anything similar. The players are often like you and me when it comes to food education. As a large percentage of people, especially in the United States where baseball is played, the most are overweight and obese, the baseball players aren’t saved from it either.
Note that many players are in incredible shape as the BMI is wrong many times.
Still, when you mix these three factors, you will certainly see a large percentage of overweight baseball players. You will learn what the exact percentile is in the next part of this article.
What Percentage of Baseball Players are Fat?
Many types of research have tested the body fat percentile, BMI, and other forms of testing to see how many percent of baseball players are fat. The results can vary depending on the method used, but there is a reliable answer.
According to a recent study and BMI ranges, 70% of professional baseball players are overweight, 10% are obese, and only 20% are within the normal weight range. However, BMI can be misleading as it doesen’t understand the differences in muscle and fat. Thus, roughly 40% to 50% of baseball players are fat.
Because of popular high protein diets, people have more muscle now than ever. That’s why the BMI can be wrong because it doesn’t understand the weight difference between fat and muscle. Muscle is approximately three times heavier than fat, so it’s not accurate, especially when used to professional athletes.
That’s why I split the 70% in half as probably half of the overweight people are because of muscle and body composition, and half is because of pure fat.
Check out the table below, where you can see the different heights and weights and what is considered normal weight, overweight, or obese. Note that BMI is always calculated in centimeters and kilograms.
|Height||Normal Weight (19-24 BMI)||Overweight (25-29 BMI)||Obese (30-35 BMI)|
I do have some muscle and a little bit of fat. For example, if I would pack a little more muscle and weigh 81kg as I’m exactly 180cm, I would be considered overweight. If I were to weigh 81kg and even gain an equal amount of fat and muscle, I would look far from fat.
Keeping that in mind, the overweight in BMI measurement doesn’t necessarily mean fat by any means.
Are Baseball Players Getting Bigger?
As you might have learned by now, baseball players are indeed getting bigger by the decade. On what scale they are getting bigger is entirely a different story.
A study that examined MLB players overweight and obesity rates shows that in 145 years, normal weighted baseball players decreased from 60% to 20%. Thus, in 145 years, 40% of baseball players have gone from normal weight to overweight or obese.
This study collected data from nearly 18,000 MLB players, so it’s very accurate. Baseball players are getting bigger, as is the United States among many other countries globally.
However, baseball players are getting stronger as well! Another study indicates that in 2008, approximately 12% of all pitches crossed the 95mph mark, and only 10 years later, 22% of pitches crossed the 95mph mark, which means that in only 10 years, 10% more pitches were thrown over 95mph which is quite an achievement.
The same study shows that the league average pitch speed was around 91mph in 2008, whereas in 2018, it was nearly 93mph. In both cases, there is a huge increase within a couple of years, but after 2015 and 2016, the progress has plateaued.
Why Do Baseball Players Have Big Thigs?
When looking at professional baseball players, overweight or not, many of them tend to have big things compared to their bodies. What’s up with that?
Baseball players have big thighs because they exercise a lot of legs, including deadlifts, squats, lunges, calf raises, and more. When batting, most of the power load comes from the lower body and hips, the catchers need to squat a lot, and spirits need to be explosive.
In addition, baseball players often eat more than they consume to gain muscle mass, increasing strength. That’s when growth happens, and if legs are trained the most, they will grow the most.
Add that with the fact that 80% of baseball players are overweight or obese when looking from a BMI standpoint. That cause’s powerful and large thighs.
Baseball is a massive sport altogether, and there are many things people are unfamiliar with. One popular topic of wonder is why baseball players spit. There are practical reasons for that, so check that out if you’re interested! Some of the answers will definitely surprise you.
Who Is the Fattest MLB Player?
So many baseball players are large, but someone must be the largest and wear that crown. Who is he?
The largest MLB player ever is Walter Young, who played first baseman and designated hitter for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005. He weighed a whopping 322 pounds (146kg) at 6′5″ (1.96m). This means that Walter Young’s BMI was 38.2, which is well over obese.
Walter Young was famous for his big size and incredible towering home runs. Sadly, Walter died in 2015 from a heart attack. His weight at the time was 450 pounds (200kg).
My Favorite Baseball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Below you can find my favorite baseball bat, baseballs, and a glove that I think will take your game to the next level!
- Bat: My favorite baseball bat is the Easton Project 3 Fuze. This bat has a composite end cap, reduced post-impact vibrations, balanced swing weight for the fastest swing speed, and a carbon core that makes this bat perform very well! As I’m not a professional baseball player, I like to use alloy bats as you can swing faster and hit further.
- Baseballs: Rawlings Competition Grade Practice Balls are my choice for something to hit. I love these balls because they fit all levels of play, so regardless of who you are playing with, you can use them. They come in a 6 or 12 balls box, and you can choose between raised or flat seams! I prefer flat seams as the balls tend to fly further!
- Glove: When it comes to the glove, my choice is the Rawlings Sandlot Glove. This glove is available for both lefties and righties. The same glove is also available for infielders, outfielders, pitchers, catchers, and 1B mitt. This glove has a nice vintage look, and it’s made from oiled leather. It has palm pads that protect your hand from impact, and it is pre-broken-in, so you are good to go as soon as you have it! A glove I’m proud to recommend.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.