Share This Page

MLB uses new technology in games, practices, special events to improve product

| Saturday, March 26, 2016, 5:48 p.m.
Courtesy of Zepp
Products such as the Mike Trout Old Hickory Smart Bat allow players to use technology to improve their production.
Courtesy of Zepp
Products such as the Mike Trout Old Hickory Smart Bat allow players to use technology to improve their production.

Once again, Major League Baseball is racing to keep up with technology, on and off the field.

A multiyear partnership between MLB and Snapchat that started last year bloomed during spring training when a special “Snapchat Day” was held during all games March 11. Players were allowed to use their phones before and after the game to send behind-the-scenes pictures and video to Snapchat. Some used a new contraption called the SnapBat Selfie Stick to get even better shots.

And that's just the start. Snapchat is expected to be a presence on Opening Day and at the All-Star game.

Players won't be using their smart phones during the game, not yet anyway, but it might not be long before they start using a “smart bat,” normal in every respect except for the swing sensor implanted in the handle.

Several manufacturers are producing such bats to sell to the public. Zepp was able to unveil its product — the Mike Trout Old Hickory Smart Bat — during spring training. The sensor has been described as a combination of gyroscopes and accelerometers (don't ask) that produces 1,000 data points to evaluate every aspect of the hitter's swing. The big question, other than “How the heck do they do that?” is when MLB will give its approval.

Speaking of sensors, MLB last year approved — for workout purposes — a device that measures the rotational force pitchers place on their arms, and it should be in wider use this season. It's designed to head off serious arm injuries before they happen by measuring the stress on the ulnar collateral ligament, which leads to Tommy John surgery. It also measures arm slot, rotation and arm speed.

What the players wear, that is, fabric technology, is changing, too. Majestic, the official uniform provider of MLB, is coming out with its Flex Base Uniform System. That's right. It's not just a jersey. It's a system that enables the players to be far more comfortable than those old-fashioned 2015 uniforms.

But don't just take our word for it. Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, a new spokesman for Majestic, had this to say (via a press release): “The new Majestic Flex Base uniform feels lighter, more flexible and comfortable. Majestic nailed it! I look forward to competing in this uniform in 2016.”

Sounds just like Noah, doesn't it?

More relevant to safety is the advancing technology in helmets. During spring training, the Pirates were among the teams trying out a new carbon-fiber helmet — more like a visor with ear flaps — to protect pitchers from line drives. Reliever Jared Hughes said he might use it. Closer Mark Melancon said he wasn't yet sure about it.

For fans, this will be another season of MLB Network and MLB.com's StatCast, which, via several cameras and radar equipment, tracks the location and movement of the ball and players.

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCohn_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.