What is the Ideal Body Fat Percentage for MLB Players?

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The ideal body fat percentage, or BMI, for anyone is under 25. Anything over this is regarded as being overweight. Over 30 is in the obese range and can bring with it the risk of many health problems.

With athletes and professional sports people, you would expect a much lower BMI rate and when you look at boxers you can see that many have a BMI of around 15% and lower. Many track athletes will have an incredibly low BMI.

But, what of Major League Baseball players? Should they have a similarly low BMI or do different sports affect how the athlete should be built? 

What BMI should a ballplayer have?

MLB players are professional sports people just like basketball and football players. However, they require different skills and strengths in different areas of their bodies.

Many English Premier League players are known for running over 10km during one 90 minute match. Compare that to the average MLB player who might cover 100 yards in a game and you can see that they will have radically different body shapes. You also have to consider how hard some of the MLB players can hit.

Diet can affect your running performance and most likely how hard you can hit so you might imagine a soccer player and an MLB player eating quite differently.

Deciding what BMI a Major League Baseball player should have isn’t quite straightforward. 

How have MLB player’s BMI scores changed?

If you look at reports about MLB player’s BMI stats from over the last 150 years you will see some startling changes. For more than a century pro ball players had a healthy to high BMI of around 18.5 to 24.9 but about 30 years ago that all changed.

Around 1991 the average BMI of baseball players started to move upwards. Nearly 80% of professional players have a BMI of over 25 which shows how obesity rates are soaring in the MLB.

There could be a few reasons why this has happened. 

Why do modern-day MLB players have such high BMI stats?

It is well documented that there was a period in the ’90s and early 2000s when steroids were rife in baseball. This period is even known as the steroid era. It is the use of these drugs that may explain why the average BMI scores suddenly started shooting up.

Body mass index doesn’t take into account muscle mass and with many players bulking up on steroids it could explain why the BMI scores went so high.

Another reason may be diet. Diets have changed over the last hundred years and what was being eaten by an MLB player back in 1950 will not be the same as today. Genetics and finances have also changed with players on average being far taller than their counterparts from a century ago. 

Why should it matter what BMI they have?

If it were any other sport then BMI would seriously be a consideration but not all ballplayers have been slim with one Chicago Cubs prospect weighing in at 300 pounds.

However, BMI does matter for lots of reasons. As it doesn’t take into account muscle mass or bone density it is fair to say that many MLB players have put on extra muscle to be able to pitch and hit harder. Fans love to see the ball hit out of sight and modern players are far bigger than their predecessors.

BMI matters for another reason though, and that is for health issues. A high BMI can mean someone having an increased risk of health problems soon or later on in life. 

How does BMI affect a person’s health?

It doesn’t matter if you are a professional baseball player or an average Joe, if your BMI is over 25 you are overweight and possibly heading towards health problems.

carrying extra pounds can invite many health problems.  These ailments can include the following:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cancer

It would be easy to imagine that being a professional athlete means that BMI isn’t so important but having a BMI of over 25 needs to be addressed no matter what you do for a living. 

So, what BMI should an MLB player be?

It is clear that many MLB players understand the need for weight reduction and a number of them teamed up with Michelle Obama back in 2010 to fight childhood obesity.

The average weight of a Major League Baseball player is over 200 pounds with a height of 6ft 2 inches. This returns a BMI result of 26.6 which is overweight. As this is the average result that means there are of course other players who are lighter but also ones that are much heavier.

Historically there have always been big baseball players. The sport doesn’t require huge levels of fitness or stamina as there are no large distances to cover. There is no end-to-end action like Basketball has. Players can spend much of the game sitting so it would be easy for some players to let their BMI rise up.

Having said that, there would seem to be an inherent need for a baseball player to be bigger than a soccer player for example. The extra weight an MLB player carries is put behind their swing when looking to send the ball out of the park.

The ideal BMI is probably somewhere under 25 depending on a player’s physique, muscle mass, bone density, and other factors. 

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How can you look after your own BMI?

If you are interested in this area of health and fitness then it is easy to calculate your BMI and see where your score lies.

If you find you are in the obese section, over 30, or just overweight then talk to your local health professional about your options. Reducing BMI can lead to many positive changes in your life including reducing any potential health risks.

Although online calculators are useful for checking your BMI quickly they do not tell the whole tale and smart scales can be very useful for seeing what is really going on.

If you are interested in a FitTrack smart scale then click here getfittrack.com/products/fittrack-smart-body-bmi-scale and you can learn more. These scales are more sophisticated than just taking a BMI measurement as they can measure bone mass, standard weight, body fat percentage, muscle mass, and a number of other metrics.

Exercise and a healthy balanced diet play a major part in how your BMI will score so keep active and play plenty of sports. If ball playing is your cup of tea then supplement it with some cardio to increase fitness, lose fat, and retain a good BMI. 

Summary

While everyone should keep their BMI under 25 ideally, it is possible that some baseball players have a slightly higher score due to muscle mass. MLB players need to hit the ball hard and pitchers are throwing harder and faster than ever so they will naturally be larger than in the last century.

Keeping an eye on your own BMI will help you to avoid going overweight, aid you in reducing future health risks, and keep you throwing curveballs for plenty of time to come.

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