The capabilities for collecting data on players has grown exponentially, and there is more to come. Hawk Eye is now the choice of the MLB, and have their system ready to go for next season. As an example – check this out. At the US Open Tennis Championships in New York earlier this month, they collected data on every shot hit by every player – velo, trajectory (how the ball moved), where it landed on the court, physical movements, racket position and angles, position of the player on every shot, etc, etc… and on every single shot hit!! Tennis has somewhat of a head start with using all this data, but even there, much is still being learned, and it is potentially overwhelming!
The best way for us in baseball to look at this, in our opinion, is the short-term use of the data versus the long term use. At this time for the coaches, it’s the short term where they should be – what can I quickly use to help a player? Pitching – one simple thing is to compare pitches in the bullpen with those in the game. Is the curveball about the same or is the performance lower in the game? Another simple one is to find a pitch with your pitcher that you can quickly improve. Try a few changes with their weaker pitches while in a bullpen, and see if you can get a quick to semi-quick improvement – the data for this is easy to see and read. Hitting – what is the launch angle? Is it consistent? Just look for the obvious opportunities, and not get caught up with the volume of it all. The data will give you little things.
Analytics will sort out short and long term value
In the long term, MLB and other “highly paid” analysts will come up with ways to sort and use all the data. Companies like Baseball Cloud will produce analytics that when applied, will create both short and long term value to your players and team. Likely after a period of time using the data, you will find a few things that will improve how you run the team practices, such as how you have hitters prep. But, we are saying, don’t jump there yet. There are plenty of simple data points coming now that are easy to understand, and will create value. Focus there, and don’t let the overall volume of all this new information overwhelm you now.