Roegele: The effects of pitch sequencing

From SABR member Jon Roegele at The Hardball Times on November 24, 2014:

Hitting a baseball — I’ve said it a thousand times — is the single most difficult thing to do in sport. – Ted Williams

Certainly if one of the best pure hitters in baseball history finds hitting a baseball the hardest athletic feat that he’s ever encountered, the rest of the world faces an even greater challenge when stepping into the batter’s box. Since the era where Williams was setting batting records, changes to the game may have even increased this level of difficulty. Specialized pitchers entering the game for shorter and shorter stretches of time along with training developments have led to higher pitch velocities across the league. MLBAM now classifies each pitch thrown into one of 13 different types, demonstrating the variety of looks that hitters in today’s game are required to negotiate.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an intriguing article describing a relatively new way that some teams have approached the task of improving pitch recognition for their hitters. The article describes a set of online interactive games developed by a Massachusetts-based company called NeuroScouting that are being used by at least three major league organizations as a tool to develop the connection within their batters’ brains between the visual inputs from a pitch en route and the decision-making process as to whether to attempt to swing.

One could certainly believe that accurately identifying a pitch on the way to plate plays a large role in how well hitters fare at restricting their swings to pitches inside the strike zone and how solid the contact is that they are able to make. The fact that the three organizations mentioned in the article (Red Sox, Cubs, Rays) are all well-regarded as far as sabermetric creativity and analysis go lends more credence to the potential of this technology to bear fruit in my mind.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: November 24, 2014. Last Updated: November 24, 2014.