clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Crawfish Boil: Latest Pitching Technology

Tampa Bay is again at the forefront of new technology to gain a competitive edge.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever there is new technology that reaches the forefront of baseball, you usually hear the same teams associated with it. Tampa Bay is usually among those. Oakland gets a lot of publicity for forward thinking because of Moneyball, but Tampa Bay is well known in baseball circles for their statistical approach. And this makes that even more true.

Again, they are at the forefront. This time it is all to do with pitching and high-speed cameras. If you have been reading this site for awhile, you are probably at least aware of what kinematics (measuring angles in body segments). I've been doing this for a few years. But, it's just the beginning of the application of high speed cameras.

The research that the American Sports Medicine Institute has done that established the ranges for the the kinematic studies also give us kinetic data. Kinetic is much more important but  much more difficult to obtain. You have to have multiple angles using high-speed cameras and a control. But, it actually measures rotational velocity of body segments and torque at the joints. It measures actual force at the joint. It tells us so much more

The limitations of it is that it's only been able to be recorded in a lab. Kyle Boddy at DrivelineBaseball does it. Vanderbilt does it.

A lab has significant limitations as it cannot replicate in-game situations. Pitchers with 90+ velocity will often be in the 80's off a mound in a lab. You just can't replicate the focus. The adrenaline. The intent.

Those limitations, among others, limit the validity of the data gathered and how much we really know about what a pitchers elbow or shoulder is really experiencing and quantifying that. Being able to do that in a stadium during a game is next level stuff.

With what the Rays are doing, they will be able to create models of in-game mechanical characteristics that result in increased stress. They can more accurately monitor changes in torque to get a better idea of when a pitcher usually fatigues. They can see what certain pitches actually do. They'll be able to see if a 3-2 pitch is more stressful than an 0-1 pitch.

By identifying those things, they can create models that will make pitcher abuse points looks incredibly obsolete (likely already true).

They can create models over multiple seasons of pitcher's they've faced to predict decline in a pitcher's performance or eventual injury risk. Making them more inclined to invest properly on the FA market.

This is a significant advantage and we can only hope the Astros will soon be following behind. This is incredible technology that has countless applications and endless possibilities.