How many pitchers in the United States?

I’m looking for any info you’ve got on:

the # of little league pitchers

the # of high school pitchers

the # of college pitchers

the # of professional pitchers

or… baseball players? any help is appreciated!

This is interesting from the NCAA:

Approximately three in 50, or about 6.4 percent of high school senior boys interscholastic baseball players will go on to play men’s baseball at a NCAA member institution.

About nine in 100, or about 8.9 percent of NCAA senior male baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team.

Approximately one in 200, or 0.44 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team.

All the more reason to be part of that select few. :slight_smile:

I should be able to get you those numbers for players - not pitchers. House quotes them at the coaches certs. to make a point about the numbers that fall by the wayside. Give me until tomorrow.

THANKS!! I’m doing a paper for one of my grad classes and haven’t been able to come up with the right information. Really appreciate it!

Here’s what I’m come up with:

Little League - 560,000 pitchers AND players who pitch

High School - 112,000 pitchers

College - 10,440 pitchers

Pro (Indy/Minor/Major) - 600-700 pitchers

What do you think?

I think you’re probably off by roughly 80K for HS pitchers. There are between 15,000 and 18,000 HS’s. Assuming not all play baseball, use the low number. Then you’ve got to define what you mean by pitcher. I’m assuming you me a player who has pitched, but it cold be you mean has pitched in HS, or even pitched “X”% of all the innings available.

Eliminating every HS player who has pitched ever, would probably be a good bet. But now you’ve got to define what you mean by HS. After all, a kid on the FR team is a HS pitcher.

So, if you define a HS pitcher as a player who has ever thrown a pitch in a HS game, here’s what I see.

15,000 schools playing baseball.
At least 6 players on a team who pitch in HS.
Two teams per school

15,000 * 6 * 2 = 180,000

And to tell the truth, its much more likely that the number of pitchers on any given HS team will be more than 6. For the 6 teams in our league last season, there were 47 players who pitched. It may not have been much, but they pitched.

I suspect you’re also off buy about half for kids below HS age. Remember, to most people Little League describes a group of age groups, not necessarily LL Inc. In LL Inc alone there are over 2M kids, but there are other organizations at that level like Dixie Youth, PONY, and others, plus scads of communities have leagues not affiliated with any organization.

What’s your paper about?

If you believe wikipedia then “In 2008, nearly half a million high schoolers and over 35,000 collegians played on their schools’ baseball teams.” Would you consider 40% are pitchers or have ever throw a pitch then about 200,000 high school pitchers. If we use 40% again for college then that would be 14,000 pitchers.

Here is the wikipedia site and the source of the data:

Bradford, Marcia (2008). “Expanding Opportunities On The Ball Fields”. SportsEvents Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-03.

Here are the annual numbers of baseball players worldwide at each level as quoted by House in his November, 2005 coaches certification. These numbers are approximate.

Little League = 6.8 million
High School = 2.4 million
College = 77,000
Minor League = 7,000
Major League = 800

House makes the point that the biggest drop off occurs between Little League and High School. Because of this, he says those who coach at the lowet levels have the greatest reponsibility.

Steven, I’m sure you need to site your source so here’s the info (not necessarily in proper format):

Tom House
National Pitching Association Coaches Certification Program
November 3-6, 2005
San Diego, California


Did House provide any color as to why the significant drop from the little league to the high school level? I’m curious. I’d also like to hear from the LTP community. I’ll start with my controversial and non-scientific rationale based on way too many years in the little league ranks!..

  1. Any one can play little league baseball. That means that kids that are not coordinated or not yet coordinated because of age. Some kids do not develop that necessary hand/eye coordination and some others drop out of frustration before they do. Controversial statement #1!
  2. Size. Not always the case but some kids just get intimidated by the large field. In my opinion, 12-year old kids should go to the PONY league distance before the full field for 2-years. I think kids get excitement and joy out of hitting a ball “to the fence” and then get to the next level at age 13 and have to crush one to get it out of the high school infield. It’s just not fun looking at a 350’ fence at 13 years old. Controversial statement #2!
  3. I found that a lot of kids just didn’t want to play baseball and when they figured out that they didn’t have to (at the next level), they stopped.
  4. Their friends stopped or they had to mix with other kids.
  5. Other sports become available (e.g., lacrosse)
  6. WEATHER. I’m from beautiful New England. I think March practices should be indoors. PERIOD. Coaches are taking the fun out of the game by making kids stand around in snow flurries. Let’s use our heads and make the kids want to be there.
  7. Pace of the game. See #5. It’s a different world, campers.
  8. Bad experience with coaching.
  9. Little league parents…usually their own…who think little Johnny got the shaft at all-star voting time and take the fun out of the game for Johnny.
  10. Dad / mom didn’t share the joy with them by playing toss in the backyard, teaching the nuance of the game while watching the Sox/Yankees (hey…did you see Jeter move to the hole when Posada called that pitch inside on the right handed batter?..hey…did you see how Pedroia pushed that ball the right side to move Ellsbury from first to third?)…

o.k…have at it!

I think #5 and #7 are the main reasons.

Assuming House’s numbers are close enough for government work, let’s look at baseball a slightly different way.

Prior to HS, there are 6.8M players in all age groups. What the 2.8M means is, 65% of all those that start, quit before HS age. The rate of attrition between his HS and College aged players is 68%, between College and MiL players 90%, and between MiL and ML players 89%. Now is it mainly because of any or all of those reasons already listed, or is it possible that most of the attrition comes because of the lack of places to play? If you’ve ever heard of the old saying, you can’t stuff 10 pounds of doo doo into a 1 pound bag, you’ll understand one very good reason there’s such a very high attrition rate.

I believe the way the rage of players is broken down, doesn’t work well for much detailed analysis. FI, are all 6.8M LL players available for play on the 1st day of HS? Heck no! In order to do any kind of worthwhile analysis, the groups would need to be broken down into much smaller groups.

Let’s call the lowest level “Entry Level”. This would be the level most players begin. Yes, some do start later, but I’m talking about the vast majority here. In my experience, that happens prior to 11YO, so we’ll say the entry level is 10U.

Then you have the level that’s probably the most active and exciting because the QUANTITY of advancements will be made in it than at any later level. That one would cover 11 thru 13, and let’s call it the “Transition Level”. I believe that’s the most crucial level because players are beginning to get a sense of how they compare to a much wider variety of players, so their significance is beginning to come down to earth.

Its also the age of that transition from kiddyball on a miniature field, to playing ball on the big field, and is where the rubber meets the road. Many players allow themselves to be intimidated and don’t even try before dropping out. Others try, but don’t given themselves enough time to make the transition, but to make that worse, there aren’t many opportunities for “weaker” players. This is pretty much where rec ball has disappeared and been taken over by travel/select/tournament ball, which all have selection criteria.

Next comes the 14 thru 18 level. Let’s call it the “Apprentice Level”. Because there aren’t many opportunities for being on a team without making some kind of cut, either academic, skills, or both, and the number of teams is so relatively small, there’s no way all of the players from the prior level will find a place to play. Especially since so many players will play on more than one team.

This is also the level where the “serious” players are generally separated from those who aren’t quite as serious. IOW, this is the level where baseball stops being a game as much as it starts becoming a job. There’s something else that happens between this level and the next. Since there are virtually no teams beyond this level that aren’t either college or pro teams, that becomes an obstacle to more eligible players than baseball skill.

I don’t think all the “excuses” really convey why the attrition is what its is, and there’s something else. Has anyone bothered to investigate what the attrition rates are from beginning to end for any other sport to try to see if baseball is any better or worse?


No, House didn’t give specifics. But I think there was an implication that youth coaches can make a difference in keeping kids in the game.

Thanks, Roger. I think they can, definately, play a role; at least in keeping the game fun. There are a lot of other options out there as the kids mature. Also, the numbers must go down. If a town has 5 or 6 little league teams and the high school only has one, it’s tough to keep all those kids playing. I realize they won’t all go to the same high school, but there are far fewer teams at the high school level. If a kid isn’t likely to make his high school team (or has already been cut), they are less likely to play in a recreational league (or to make an American Legion team, for example).