A fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal about how three teams — the Red Sox, Cubs and Rays — are using neurological training techniques like video games and other stuff to help hitters get better at recognizing pitches:
Though NeuroScouting’s games vary, most of them depict a ball coming from the pitcher’s mound toward the hitter. Using a laptop or tablet, players are given instructions such as, “Hit the space bar when you see the seams on the ball spinning vertically,” and are scored based on their reaction time and accuracy. The Rays have a leaderboard that shows players which of their teammates fared best on a given drill, like the high-scores screen at the end of an arcade game.
I wonder if anyone puts in vaguely-obscene initials at the leaderboard screen like I used to on the “Mr. Do” machine at Rollhaven skating rink in Flint, Michigan back in 1984. I bet some do.
And four other teams are looking in to such training as well. Baseball trends always work like this — something works for one team and it’s copied by others — so if, say, the Cubs young hitters who came up through the system using this stuff have a lot of success over the next couple of years, expect almost all teams to pick this up.
Well, maybe not the Phillies. But in their case “young hitters” is more of a theoretical than a practical concept.