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‘Moneyball’ and time to be honest about preseason screening: it is a sham making no inroads on the 1 billion dollar injury costs in baseball
  1. Rod Whiteley
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rod Whiteley, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, P.O. Box 29222, Doha 29222, Qatar; rodney.whiteley{at}

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Injuries cost Major League Baseball teams over 1 billion dollars in 2014; that is enough to buy all but 4 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams outright.1 Improving performance and saving money by preventing injury in the players is a high priority, and one justification for preseason physical screening.

On the surface, this seems sensible, but so did the player scouting practices of the last century, which the statisticians subsequently thoroughly debunked. In the Moneyball age,2 baseball players are bought and sold on fractional differences in performance statistics—there is little room for unfounded hunches. How does screening stand up in the Moneyball age? I argue that screening as we now do it is the same as player evaluation was years ago—it sounds like a good idea, but we are kidding ourselves if we think it is preventing injury.

Dogma—what happens now and why it is like a faulty fire alarm

Typical preseason physical screening involves some physical (eg, flexibility, strength, control) and some orthopaedic tests that are purported to detect undiagnosed …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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