"Hitting is contagious” is an old baseball adage that has been cited in print since 1907, but appears to have become popular in the 1930s. When one or two members of the team start hitting, the batting overages of the other team members also often rise.
“Hitting Is Contagious in Baseball: Evidence from Long Hitting Streaks” is a 2012 medical journal article into the subject.
15 June 1907, San Antonio (TX) Gazette, “Bronchos Prepare for a Long Trip,” pg. 16, col. 5:
Hitting is Contagious.
Baseball clubs lose and recover their batting streaks with astonishing rapidity and it is strangely coincident that when one or two men on the team are hitting at a fast clip, all of the rest of the team follow suit.
5 August 1931, The State-Times (Baton Rouge, LA), “Mixing with Mickey” by M. S. McCann, pg. 14, col. 1:
Hitting is contagious. Since Yam Yaryan joined the locals and started hammering the ball, the entire club has shown a marked improvement with the willow.
21 May 1933, Macon (GA) Telegraph and News, “Sport-Rays” by Ed Ray, pg. 6 col. 1:
Walker know that hitting is contagious.
12 May 1938, The Journal-News (Hamilton, OH), “Rhineland Nine Swatting Hard; Morale Is High,” pg. 16, col. 8:
Hitting Is Contagious
For another, the business of hitting seems to be contagious.
J Exp Psychol Appl. 2011 Mar;17(1):49-59. doi: 10.1037/a0022846.
Hitting is contagious: experience and action induction.
Gray R1, Beilock SL.
In baseball, it is believed that “hitting is contagious,” that is, probability of success increases if the previous few batters get a hit. Could this effect be partially explained by action induction--that is, the tendency to perform an action related to one that has just been observed? A simulation was used to investigate the effect of inducing stimuli on batting performance for more-experienced (ME) and less-experienced (LE) baseball players. Three types of inducing stimuli were compared with a no-induction condition: action (a simulated ball traveling from home plate into left, right, or center field), outcome (a ball resting in either left, right, or center field), and verbal (the word “left”, “center”, or “right"). For both ME and LE players, fewer pitchers were required for a successful hit in the action condition. For ME players, there was a significant relationship between the inducing stimulus direction and hit direction for both the action and outcome prompts. For LE players, the prompt only had a significant effect on batting performance in the action condition, and the magnitude of the effect was significantly smaller than for ME. The effect of the inducing stimulus decreased as the delay (i.e., no. of pitches between prompt and hit) increased, with the effect being eliminated after roughly 4 pitches for ME and 2 pitches for LE. It is proposed that the differences in the magnitude and time course of action induction as a function of experience occurred because ME have more well-developed perceptual-motor representations for directional hitting.
Brain Researchers Agree That Baseball Hitting Is Contagious
By Dan Peterson , Correspondent Feb 20, 2012
One of baseball’s well worn axioms is that “hitting is contagious.” Once a few batters get on base, those hitting behind them rally at the plate. In fact, MLB batting averages are roughly 50 to 70 percent higher for a batter following hits by the previous two batters as compared to outs made by the previous two batters.
While baseball theorists have explanations for this, such as rattled pitchers or motivated hitters, recent cognitive science research points to a unique learning system in our brains known as mirror neurons.
Hitting Is Contagious in Baseball: Evidence from Long Hitting Streaks
Joel R. Bock , Akhilesh Maewal, David A. Gough
Published: December 12, 2012DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051367
Hitting streaks in baseball may be contagious
Teammates of a batter on a streak also hit better than average
BY NATHAN SEPPA 3:56PM, DECEMBER 21, 2012
Like a popular politician with long “coattails,” a baseball player on a hitting streak seems to lift the performance of those around him. Teammates who play regularly with a streaking player hit at a pace above their own average during those games, a mathematical analysis shows.
“We don’t prove that hitting is contagious,” says study coauthor Joel Bock, an engineer at Scalaton, a software engineering firm in La Mesa, Calif. “But the data show there is something there.”
A Big-League Catcher Tells How the Game Is Really Played
By Jason Kendall and Lee Judge
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
People are always saying hitting is contagious, as if it were the flu. I’m not sure if hitting is contagious, but I’m pretty sure bad pitching is.
Tao of Ichiro
They say “Hitting is contagious.” - How about starting pitching? Because damn… #Mariners
11:05 PM - 20 Apr 2015
Darrell W. Cook
Hitting is contagious. Never understood that, but it’s true.
#Rangers been explaining that to us for a few days now.
8:37 PM - 6 May 2015