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How technology is changing the game

Aug 30, 2011, 3:30 PM EDT


If you can navigate your way through the obligatory (and clunky) references to VCRs and record players at the beginning of this column from Jayson Stark, you’ll get a great insight into the way that technology is changing the game of baseball.  Most specifically with reference to just how easy it is for players to review video and research tendencies of opposing batters and pitchers via iPads and stuff.

And a fun provocative bit: the notion Stark sets forth about how the pitchers may be ahead of the hitters in using this stuff so far, which leads to this observation:

We’d bet that if we polled all American baseball fans on why runs per game and batting average have dropped five seasons in a row, 99 percent of them would answer “steroids” — or the lack thereof. And you know what? They wouldn’t be wrong. But there’s another force at work that we now believe may have been nearly as powerful: information.

There are actually many forces at work, I believe, and I think that fans would be wrong if they cited steroids testing as the overwhelmingly biggest reason why offense is down rather than just one of many factors.  This article strongly suggests that small adjustments matter. And that there are all manner of small adjustments available to baseball players now.  Stuff we rarely think about.

  1. southofheaven81 - Aug 30, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Think about the small stuff? This is the INTERNET, man! Crying about steroids is what we do!

  2. - Aug 30, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    The other thing is time. A SP has 4 days to look at video and develop a plan. Hitters have a new pitcher every night. No wonder offensive numbers are down.

    Interesting stuff.

    • Roger Moore - Aug 30, 2011 at 7:02 PM

      I think that a bigger part of it is that pitching is acting and hitting is reacting. A pitcher actually can plan what he’s going to do against a batter because he gets to stop and think about what pitch to throw in what situation. The batter can’t do anything until the pitcher goes into his motion, and by that point he’s stuck working on reflexes. The batter may be able to prepare a bit better by taking BP against pitches like the ones that day’s pitcher throws, or improve his chances of guessing right if he’s a guess hitter, but he’s mostly stuck in see ball, hit ball mode. No amount of technology can overcome that basic difference.

  3. joeflaccosunibrow - Aug 30, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    I also believe better athletes are forgoing baseball and going to football. To a lesser extent, developing pitching has become a major priority with MLB vs. developing the next Babe Ruth.

  4. phukyouk - Aug 30, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Vee See Are?

  5. leftywildcat - Aug 30, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    So how soon can we get Bud the Dud to allow a 5th ump in the broadcast booth to review close plays at the bases and at the plate from all available angles?

  6. Detroit Michael - Aug 31, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    We could just admit that (1) predicting whether runs scored per game will rise or fall is not possible with any more accuracy than predicting a coin flip (2) reading justifications for what happened after the fact is not particularly helpful.

    Uncertainty: live with it!

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