Baseball Technology

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Baseball technology is advancing at the speed of light, and with the game comes the gear! As technological advances continue through the 21st century, technological progressions regarding all aspects of the game of baseball, from training, to analysis, to equipment continue to advance as well. From in game technology and the expanded use of instant replay, to at home swing analysis technology, there are some extremely interesting baseball technology and products that are being produced year after year, and there is no doubt the coming years will hold great technological advances as well.

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Baseball Technology Within the Game Itself

Major League Baseball is advancing into the digital age by testing and using technologies to assist in helping teams, umpires, and individual players achieve optimum performance. Take for example the Umpire Information System (UIS) that tracks the baseball from the pitcher’s hand all the way until it crosses the plate. This innovative product borrows technology from the United States military missile tracking devices, monitoring pitch location and trajectory that the umpire holds on a laptop computer. While Questec was developed, or at least first used in MLB in 2001, the latest similar technology has been in use since 2009 with modernization and updates in 2012. Then there is the Sport Master Pro device that works in tracking pitch- by- pitch and handles databases of the pitchers, batter performance, and types of pitches thrown. This handy little gadget operates by the use of a touch-screen tablet and is light weight and durable. An oldie-but-goody is the Digital Scout, first deemed to be the official handheld statistical software in 2002. This software enables both coaches and fans to track statistical and scouting data on a handheld device that uses point–and-touch technology. Using the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) as its platform this software is great for collecting player and team performance and even report printing.

Further, the latest innovations by Major League Baseball Advanced Media have progressed to the point where it is possible to present the tools that connect all actions that happen on a field to determine how they work together. MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman, at the eighth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, gave an overview of how it continues to implement various fan experience technologies to ensure MLB ballparks remain crucibles of technology. "This is going to be pretty exciting," Bowman said. "We think it's going to change the way we argue about the game, but we don't think it's going to settle any debates. We hope it starts more." This new data stream will enable the industry to understand the whole play on the field --batting, pitching, fielding and base running, and enable new metrics for evaluation by clubs, scouts, players and fans. In other words, it will actually provide the raw data, statistical information and numbers that many fans like to use as the backbones of their argument, while possibly presenting the same information for the individual presenting the other side of the same argument!

Baseball Technology Available to Everyone

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Then of course there is the technology available to aspiring youth baseball players, established little leaguers, school ball players and college players and higher, all looking to develop, work on and/or fine tune their current swings. Great organizations and companies like the Hitting Performance Lab, QualityAtBatsAcademy.com, ITS Baseball and BaseballRebellion.com, and TheHittingProject.com all offer various programs and technology products which you can use at home, through most any device, in order to get swing analysis, specialized baseball and softball swing drills, and customized advice and programs all designed to make anyone a better hitter from their comfort of their own home, although hard work and dedication is still absolutely required! Along these lines, there is ZEPP, which is a device that you connect to the knob of your baseball or softball bat (or golf club or tennis racket) and with the help of a portable electronic device, like iPod, iPad, Kindle, etc, allows you to analyze your swing in3D. Using comparative technology, ZEPP will provide a series of drills for you to improve your overall technique and incorporate some of the swing fundamentals used by the greats of today’s game. I use this device with my own baseball team, and absolutely love it. More importantly, they love it and the overall team improvement in hitting for average and power is borderline unreal! According to the ZEPP website (zepp.com), “Get to know your swing or stroke inside and out through instant 3D and Video analysis. Learn from the pros; capture your personal mechanics and compare your swing side-by-side to many of the world’s greatest athletes. Boost your confidence and fine-tune your game, so that you can perform more consistently when it counts.” That statement is very accurate!

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Baseball Technology - Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

But with all the technological advances we have seen, and with all the analysis and studies that go along with those advances and analysis, there are undoubtedly those baseball purists who will argue that technology takes away from the human aspect of the game, and such technology does not belong in the great American past time. These are probably the same folks who would argue Don Denkinger’s call in the 1985 World Series, or Jim Joyce’s call in Armando Galarraga’s (not) perfect game in 2010 are just part of the process, and bad calls happen all the time and both help and hurt your team, evening out in the end. But on the other side of the coin there are those who say that technology enhances statistical data and adds accuracy and efficiency in performance monitoring. Whichever way you lean, technological advances in baseball are an asset that allows teams to organize their information without any threat whatsoever of any computer or device replacing managers, coaches, scouts, or players. You can never, ever completely take the human element out of this game we all play, watch and love so much!

While there have been tremendous advances in technology and technology related products in all areas of baseball, including equipment, on the field monitoring, statistical analysis, and more, we certainly have not seen the end of this technological explosion. While no manager, coach or player on the planet is in immediate danger of losing his position to a robot or technology based entity, baseball technology should be utilized whenever possible to give the manager, coach or player the legal advantage they all yearn for.  Learn to embrace technology – it isn’t going away any time soon! 

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