Examining the post-baby slump

Would you autograph my baby? - Justin Edmonds

First Phil Coke and now Alex Avila have had poor performances in the time following the birth of their first child. Let's take a closer look.

Unlike a potentially awesome movie script, baseball is not a game played by robots. Baseball is played by real human beings with unique emotions, history, and families. While much progress has been made in the sabermetric community to isolate a number of player traits and predict their future performance, little has been done to account for the elusive "human element." How do real life events effect players on the field? Is such analysis even possible? Is such analysis even appropriate? Can we take a snapshot of a player's performance after a tangible life event, in this case, the birth of a first child, and compare it to their body of work?

This comes to our attention after the recent slumps of Phil Coke and Alex Avila after the births of their first children. I'm not meaning to single them out in any way; those are just the players with whom I am most familiar. In fact, my hypothesis is many other players exhibit the the same pattern. Please know I am not making a judgement call about these guys or their families. In fact, wouldn't it be refreshing in a way to see that the birth of a child really does affect a father?

But how would it affect performance? Obviously the sleepless nights, preoccupation with mom and baby, and a new role as father. But could it also be that fatherhood reduces testosterone? In a recent study scientists discovered that is exactly what happens.

Before we get too carried away, is the post-baby slump even a real thing? We only have named two isolated cases.

I am certain there is a right way to get at the answer to this question. It would involve finding a statistically significant sample, comparing the statistics in the post-baby period to the statistics in the non-post baby period and adjusting for other factors (age, league change, etc.).

This sounds hard.

Instead we'll use a technique as blunt as I am:

  1. Search the Internet to find guys who are reproducing. Look for guys who are having their first born. (Once you crank out a second, it's old hat)
  2. Find their stats for the three months directly after the birth of the bundle of joy (I chose three months because that's about how long many infants take to start sleeping through the night) I disregarded any carry over into the next season.
  3. Compare the post-birth numbers to the player's career numbers.
  4. ????
  5. Profit
For example, here is Avila's numbers

Alex Avila BA OBP SLG
post-baby period .171 .254 .276
career .253 .349 .418

Here are Coke's numbers

Phil Coke ERA WHIP OPS against
post-baby period 6.75 1.64 1.06
career 4.18 1.37 .722

Here are some additional players.

Nick Punto May 30, 2008

Nick Punto BA OBP SLG
post-baby period .291 .345 .414
career .250 .328 .327

Dustin Pedroia August 18, 2009


BA OBP SLG
post-baby period .297 .374 .473
career .304 .372 .460

Brandon Moss April 16, 2013


BA OBP SLG
post-baby period .306 .393 .490
career .249 .320 .439

David DeJesus May 25, 2010


BA OBP SLG
post-baby period .363 .413 .458
career .281 .355 .420

Colby Lewis April 15, 2011


ERA WHIP OPS against
post-baby period 3.94 1.20 .729
career 4.76 1.37 .770

My conclusion?

WHY DID I WASTE MY TIME WITH THIS!?! EVERYONE ELSE SEEMS TO BE JUST FINE AFTER A BABY. THIS RESULT IS TURNED OUT WORSE THAN MY EIGHTH GRADE SCIENCE FAIR PROJECT.

BASEBALL WRITING IS HARD AND STUPID!

THE END.

More Roars:

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