EUGENE, Ore. -- You won’t see an Oregon baseball practice without a Rapsodo machine. It's a black instrument with a sensor that stares at the pitcher on the mound.
“It gives us spin rate, it gives us spin efficiency, it gives us horizontal and vertical break,” Brett Thomas said.
In other words, baseball made easier. Thomas heads Oregon baseball’s new analytics department that uses technology and numbers to make the better ballplayer.
“We look for consistency with some of the numbers," Thomas said. "We want to make sure their mechanics are repeatable. We can validate that through out technology.”
It can also keep a player healthier using sensor-filled athletic sleeves. It tells the coaches if players’ arms are being overworked.
“If we see any sort of red flags, which could occur, but haven’t fortunately, if they do ever occur, we’ll change their workout plan, we’ll change their throwing program to make sure it fits them the best," Thomas said.
It even helps with hitting. Each practice bat has a sensor on the knob to calculate things such as bat speed and launch angle.
“I hope what you can see is you just see the on-field results," Oregon head coach Mark Wasikowski said. "You see the on-field results. You see guys advance through the professional ranks at a higher pace.“
Analytics have become a common trend in major league baseball. Teams such as the Astros, Yankees and Dodgers all have adopted the idea of numbers and data helping team and player performance.
"Instead of kind of the feel generation to 'hey did you feel that? Feel this?' Let’s put some hard, set numbers on it," Thomas said. "Then we can help them and train them another way too just to see if we can open that part of the brain as well.”
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