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From analytics to pitch clocks, high tech is transforming America’s pastime.
April 6, 2023
New York Yankee home run king Aaron Judge typifies modern-day baseball players that use technology in their daily preparation. Judge uses VR during batting practice. Michael Zagaris/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images North America Via Getty Images
Baseball is one the oldest known sport in the U.S., and arguably the one most steeped in tradition. After many decades there are still two separate leagues with the winners squaring off in the World Series, and only this season is interleague play emerging on a massive scale with all teams in both leagues scheduled to play one another at least once. And, until last year only one league employed the designated hitter on a full-time basis.
Up to this year, there were no limit on how much time a pitcher can take between pitches, while often led to games, even low-scoring ones, lasting over three hours. In the other sports, unless games went into overtime, one had a fair idea on when a football, basketball game, or hockey game would end.
This season, a pitch clock has been implemented to speed up games. But the fact is that baseball has been embracing technology for years now. The use of statistics and advanced metrics provides all kinds of data on a team’s own players, as well as those on the opposing team, in all types of situations. Moreover, the use of advanced sensor and motion tracking technologies are making it possible to analyze a pitcher’s arm movement, or a batter’s swing, to find out why a player may be in a slump.
In addition, advanced sensing technologies are making it possible to better monitor a player’s physical condition, helping to mitigate the effect of injuries that invariably arise.
And, as with other sports, data analytics has been factoring into both day-to-day decisions over deployment of players in various game situations, as well as in long-term planning.
While many traditionalists in baseball still call for old-time observation and managing “by the gut,” the fact is that technology is influencing baseball decisions and that the data is available to help teams get a leg up on the competition. Expect more technologies, such as robotic umpires that call balls and strikes, to receive a long look.
Some of the more interesting baseball technologies are discussed in the following gallery.
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