Effectively Wild Wiki


Ben and Sam talked to David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, about whether women will make the majors, whether Babe Ruth could compete today, whether genetics explain injury rates, and more.


  • Interview with David Epstein
  • Women in baseball
  • Differences in throwing among sexes
  • Genetics and body measurements of prospects
  • Neurological development in sports
  • Specialization in youth sports
  • Comparing baseball players across eras
  • Injury prone players & training methods

Email Question[]

  • Doug: "I'm 26, haven't played competitive baseball since high school, and live in New York City. If I were magically given the true talent level of Mike Trout right now how soon before I'd be starting in the Major Leagues?"


  • David says that Little League pitcher Mo'ne Davis is already throwing about as fast as she will ever be able to.
  • Many world records for children aged 10 are the same for boys and girls. By age 15 they boys are drastically farther ahead as a result of their development from the "natural steroid cycle" of puberty.
  • David thinks it is problematic that scouting has started identifying players young and younger because there is a tendency to "mistake biological maturation for talent".
  • There is a significant amount of neurological development that takes place for athletes during their early teen years. He points to this missed experience as one of the reasons Michael Jordan was unable to be more successful in baseball. Chess players have a 50 times fewer chance of becoming a Grand Master if they start playing after the age of 13.
  • Early exposure to sports is important for elite athletes but playing a multitude of sports helps develop a wider range of valuable athletic skills.
  • Body types in each sport have become highly specialized in recent decades. Earlier in the 20th century common thought was that the 'average' body was best for all sports.