Combining Technologies to Measure Swing Development

As hitters develop, their mechanics evolve over time into a swing that both shares many commonalities with other players and is unique to their own game. But tracking a player’s progress on that journey to a consistent swing has always been tricky. Scouting and video analysis can give players a sense of how repeatable their mechanics are, but these are expensive, time-consuming, and limited to players at the highest level, whom we would expect to already have the most consistent mechanics.

Enter technology. Technological developments, including inertial bat sensors and camera-based ball tracking systems, should make it possible to develop a quantitative measure of consistency readily available to a wider range of players, with a wider range of abilities. This will allow young hitters to better measure their progress while also giving scouts and coaches a tool to judge prospective players.

In this article, we look for a way to quantify that relationship between consistency and hitter quality. We measured over 1,500 individual swings from 25 hitters, ranging in age from Little Leaguers to NCAA Division 1 players. We also collected different kinds of swings from each hitter, having each player hit off a tee and a pitching machine, with the goal of hitting first for power and later for contact.

Read the rest in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2016

(Collaboration with Dan Kopitzke, K-Zone Academy, Apex, NC)

International baseball: South Korea wins inaugural Premier 12

A three-run homer by Byung-Ho Park capped a five-run fourth inning as South Korea rolled past the United States, 8-0, to claim the inaugural Premier 12 baseball championship in front of 40,411 fans at the Tokyo Dome.

For South Korea, the victory marked their first global baseball title since the 1982 Baseball World Cup hosted in Seoul. The championship comes on the heels of a gold medal at September’s Asian Baseball Championship. As in September, South Korea needed a furious ninth-inning rally to upset Japan in the penultimate game. Seven innings of one-hit ball by Japanese ace Shohei Otani had the visitors facing elimination, down 3-0 with three outs to go. But six straight batters reached base for South Korea, with Dae-Ho Lee’s line drive single into the left field corner bringing in the tying and go-ahead runs.

Read the rest at Beyond the Box Score

International baseball: Premier 12 preview and summer wrapup

Baseball, as former commissioner Bart Giamatti once wrote, “is designed to break your heart.” The World Series is over, the chill rains have come, the days are all twilight, and we’re forced to scavenge, staring glumly at the garish colors and chemical aftertaste of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Baseball!

There is one more event on the calendar before the offseason: The World Baseball Softball Confederation is hosting the first Premier 12 tournament in Japan and Taiwan next week. The event features the top 12 nations in the WBSC’s rankings, which are based on participation in other WBSC tournaments, and will serve as a qualifying event for future Olympic baseball tournaments. According to the WBSC, the Premier 12 is the “flagship professional baseball world championship.” This is not to be confused with the World Baseball Championship, which was labeled the WBSC’s “Official men’s Baseball World Championship” [sic] when the MLB-WBSC partnership was renewed in September. (WBSC did not respond to requests to clarify the distinction between the two.)

Read the rest at Beyond the Box Score

MLB teams demo new tech during fall instructs

MLB teams use the fall instructional leagues (“instructs”) to try out new technologies they are considering purchasing. Organizations get to use their minor league talent as guinea pigs, rather than their stars. And tech companies get more access to players than they would during spring training or the regular season, when their schedules are much more regimented.

The result is a who’s who of baseball-related companies making their way to the Arizona and Florida. Over the past year, deCervo, Motus Global, SmartKage, andZepp all reported spending time at fall instructs, and that’s just the companies I’ve personally written about. Motus brought their pitching sleeve — later officially christened the mThrow — to last year’s fall instructs, where they reported metrics such as arm slot, arm speed, and elbow torque to coaches during game action.

Read the rest at TechGraphs

CoachMePlus completes fundraising for athlete management system

The CoachMePlus software aggregates data from disparate sources into a single dashboard, making it easier for coaches and training staffs to combine the data from different wearable sensors, camera-based systems, and other sources. As such, they draw comparisons to Kinduct and Kitman Labs, which TechGraphs has recently covered. The difference, according to president and co-founder Kevin Dawidowicz, is that CoachMePlus was developed by “software guys,” rather than people with a physiology background. As a result, he argues, the company’s software is agnostic to a trainer’s methodology, which can mean a lot in a field as contentious as injury prevention.

Read the rest on TechGraphs

Scoutee pairs handheld radar gun with smartphone app

With no statistics available from his national team days, and no video or scouting reports available to him, Uhan couldn’t make an impression on his would-be college coaches. He ended up attending the University of Ljubjana in the Slovenian capital, and his baseball career ended. As a lecturer in the school’s faculty of economics, Uhan was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and found inspiration in his former passion. He soon after partnered with fellow faculty members who specialized in electrical engineering (especially radar systems), and they began developing what would become Scoutee.

Read the rest on TechGraphs

Reactions

2015 MLB Postseason Poll

A different website would see those results and say, “We’re due!” But not us. We here at Beyond the Box Score are well-versed in the Gambler’s Fallacy, so instead we say, “The Law of Large Numbers means that eventually someone will randomly happen upon a World Series participant!”*

*-Actually, we go on to say other things about how this technically assumes that World Series picks actually follow a random distribution and so on, but that’s when I stop listening to us.

Let’s get back on that horse and see who of our 17 blind squirrels will be the one to finally find that nut.

Read the rest on Beyond the Box Score

Wearable sensor signal processing and machine learning for baseball analytics