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Thursday's Three Astros Things

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Talking about Brady Aiken, biometrics and the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference...

Some things to talk about while nerds get the last word...

1) Brady Aiken enrolls at IMG Academy

Well, well, well.

The UCL is on the other elbow now, isn't it, Mr. Aiken.

Aiken joins Jacob Nix at the post-high school academy for players. The two will be linked in history for the draft debacle that saw the Astros sign neither last summer. Concerns over a medical issue with Aiken caused his deal to be rescinded, causing the Astros to also miss on signing Nix, who they'd reached an earlier agreement with contingent on them signing Aiken.

It's a long complicated process. The two ended up at IMG Academy for different reasons, probably. Nix settled with the Astros on a grievance hearing. Since he agreed in principle with the team and had taken the final physical, but not actually signed his deal, the two sides settled earlier this winter on an undisclosed deal.

The NCAA isn't too keen on amateurs getting money, even if they're homeless and just need a place to live.

For Aiken, the situation is less cut and dried, but probably boiled down to baseball agent Casey Close getting involved in his negotiations with the Astros. The NCAA dislikes agents and amateurs together and has shown it multiple times.

Both players are eligible for the 2015 draft.

2) More thoughts on biotech

Following up on the article from Wednesday on the Astros using biometrics, it appears they are working on new ways to prevent injuries and help players recoverFrom an article that published yesterday on Astros.com:

"We're really looking for any possible warning signs that someone might be on the verge of an injury or vulnerable to an injury," he said. "As you might imagine this time of year, they come in very healthy and strong and excited and energetic. And so we have physical testing going on, not just a routine physical exam, but athletic functional testing to very closely look for signs someone might have a tendency to get hurt this season."

Also, teams already have adopted the wearable technology thing. The Mariners, in particular, are already using it to study travel.

The wrist-borne devices, called Readibands, track sleep cycles of individual players. The data can then be grouped together to get averages of several kinds. This data, coupled with standard Major League Baseball stats like a-swing-and-a-miss percentages, can be combined, and that's when patterns start to emerge. The coaching staff can then use these patterns to better tweak travel schedules for the team to both minimize fatigue and maximize rest.

3) Sloan Sports Conference preview

Who's excited for another Sloan Sports Conference? When all the nerds get together and celebrate how they're slowly tearing down the fabric of sports. Soon...soon.

Beyond the Box Score has a nice rundown for those of you interested in what's happening at the 2015 SSAC. Here's my favorite bit of it, about a research paper that will undoubtedly show that Hank Conger is the Patron Saint of Framing.

Who Is Responsible for a Called Strike? (PDF)

Lastly, Joe Rosales and Scott Spratt built on Dan Brooks and Harry Pavlidis' catcher framing model, dividing credit between the batter, pitcher, catcher, and umpire. Rosales and Spratt used Baseball Info Solutions' proprietary catcher target data to augment the typical PITCHf/x data sets. The result is a much smaller spread of values (Hank Conger, for instance, saved 16 runs according to the BIS model in 2014, compared to 37 runs according to Brooks and Pavlidis' mixed model). But Tom Tango has objected to the methodology, voicing concerns that Dustin Pedroia's four extra runs are due to his height, not necessarily his proficiency at avoiding called strikes.

Enjoy it, nerds.