Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” Even so, the Yankee great may have underestimated the brain power professional baseball players routinely draw on to perform such astounding feats of athleticism as hitting 98-mph fastballs and diving to catch line drives. In The Psychology of Baseball, Mike Stadler goes beneath the surface of the game to explore the psychology behind the actions of the game’s greats–and breaks down legendary moments from baseball history, such as Willie Mays’s full-sprint over-the-shoulder grab in the 1954 World Series.
Stadler begins with the mind’s role in the game’s basic skills, explaining the anticipatory thinking that can make a hitter see a “rising fastball,” the complex muscular coordination required to throw a major league heater, and the intense spatial calculations the brain must perform in a split second in order for a fielder to catch a struck ball. Stadler then discusses the hidden nature of streaks and slumps, explaining why a “hot” hitter is most likely just getting lucky and why there’s no such thing as a clutch hitter, and also looks at the psychological basis of the so-called “sophomore slump” and the effect that a big-money contract has on a player’s performance. He also examines the personality types that are best suited to baseball, and explains what traits are most associated with success at the highest levels.
A revolutionary new look at America’s pastime that will appeal to the many fans of bestsellers like Moneyball and Three Nights in August, The Psychology of Baseball is a must-read book for the serious baseball fan.