Tag Archives: pitch recognition

Relearning How To Hit Pays Off For Shane Victorino

via Axon Sports

Its the stuff every young baseball player dreams of – down by a run in the bottom of the 7th inning with the bases loaded in game 6 of the American League Championship Series.  Last night, with a chance to become a legend, Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino tried to focus at the plate.  ”I was just trying to tie the game,” Victorino told ESPN. “I wasn’t thinking grand slam, hit it out of the park, any of that. I was just trying to put the ball in play, to give us another chance.” Instead, he launched an 0-2 pitch from right-handed pitcher Jose Veras over the Green Monster in left …

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How Batters Guess At The Plate

via Axon Sports

It’s not getting any easier being a big league hitter.  Consider that in 2003, only three pitchers lit up the radar gun at 95 mph or more on at least 700 of their pitches, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Futterman.  Last season, 17 pitchers were able to bring that speed consistently.  In 2003, only Billy Wagner threw at least 25 pitches at or above 100 mph compared to seven pitchers last year. Has the added heat affected the hitters? You bet.  Strikeouts in the MLB totalled 36,426 last season, an 18.3% increase over 2003.  ”It’s pretty simple,” said Rick Peterson, director of pitching development for the Baltimore Orioles, in …

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Getting Inside A Baseball Hitter’s Brain

via Axon Sports

When asked to describe Greg Maddux, the retired 4-time Cy Young award-winning pitcher, Wade Boggs, a Hall of Fame hitter with a .328 lifetime batting average, once said, “It seems like he’s inside your mind with you. When he knows you’re not going to swing, he throws a straight one. He sees into the future. It’s like he has a crystal ball hidden inside his glove.” So, what did Maddux know that other pitchers don’t?  Neuro-engineers from Columbia University decided to actually look inside some hitters’ brains to try to find out. Maddux, who seems to be a lock for the 2014 Hall of Fame class, earned a reputation for knowing …

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Hitting Is Timing, Pitching Is Upsetting Timing

via Axon Sports

Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn never studied biomechanics or captured 3D motion capture of the batters he faced, but he knew a lot about the science of strikeouts.  “Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing,” Spahn stated decades ago. “”A pitcher needs two pitches, one they’re looking for and one to cross them up.” After all of these years, ASMI biomechanist Dave Fortenbaugh has put this theory to the test in his lab. With less than a second to see the pitch, identify its speed and location then execute an intercepting swing of the bat, a baseball player’s margin of error can be milliseconds or millimeters.  Since most of the …

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MIT Sloan Sports Conference Mixes Jocks And Brains

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For most of us growing up, there were two distinct groups of students in our high schools, the Jocks and the Brains.  While they pretended not to like each other, there was an unspoken mutual respect.  Just as the Jocks wished they could learn concepts and do homework as quickly as the Brains, the Brains dreamed of athletic glory.   This weekend in Boston, they are reunited at the equitably named MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.  In its sixth year, the SSAC has grown from 175 people, mostly students, to this year’s sold out event where over 2,200 attendees will gather at the Hynes Convention Center.  Combining new research, data and …

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ESPN Sports Science on Pitch Recognition

via Axon Sports

Last year ESPN Sports Science did a great feature on just how tight the timeframe is for baseball players standing at the plate against major league pitching. It’s a great visual complement to everything that we’ve been talking about on the blog around the gaze patterns of athletes, high-speed decision making and the way that elite athletes become highly tuned to the visual cues that guide anticipation. From an earlier post on the anticipatory skills of athletes: Research out of Brunel University and the University of Hong Kong have shown that when watching tape of opponents, the areas of athletes’ brains associated with observation and prediction light up, and that those …

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