Tag Archives: Baseball

Relearning How To Hit Pays Off For Shane Victorino

via Dan Peterson

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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For Baseball Pitchers, Height Does Matter

via Dan Peterson

“You can’t coach height.”  While that scouting advice is usually heard around high school and college basketball courts, it applies equally well to pitching prospects in baseball.  The trend towards taller, dominating pitchers has been rising for years.  A quick check of this season’s MLB stats shows the average height of the top 10 pitchers with the most strikeouts this season is 6’ 5” compared to the average height of all MLB players of 6’ 1”. In fact, the height of pro pitchers has been on the rise for the last 110 years and they’re throwing harder.  In the 2009 MLB season, all but two of the fastest 20 pitches thrown …

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How Batters Guess At The Plate

via Dan Peterson

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 Dan Peterson

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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Decoding The Two Sides Of The Baseball Swing

via Axon Sports

When describing his former teammate Joe Mauer’s hitting discipline, five-time MLB All-Star Jim Thome told ESPN, “Joe’s the only teammate I’ve ever had who never gets fooled. And when I say ‘never,’ that’s what I mean. Absolutely never.”  The fact that Mauer had more walks than strikeouts in 2012, while leading the league in on-base percentage, is not surprising to his Minnesota Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire. “He takes (pitches) because he can,” Gardenhire says. “Other guys aren’t good enough.” Combine this knack of knowing when to swing with one of the sweetest strokes in baseball and the result is a three-time batting champion, a first for a catcher.  Being able to …

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New Research Could Help Alex Rodriguez’s Batting Slump

via Axon Sports

At this point in the MLB postseason, Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman, is willing to try any remedy for his postseason hitting slump.  So far in October, his batting average is a paltry .130, well below his season average of .272.  Baseball writers and fans have tagged him with the dreaded “choker” label and his manager, Joe Girardi, has already benched him once.  A-Rod’s confidence seems to be in a downward spiral with all of the added pressure and attention on him.  However, a German sport psychologist could be coming to his rescue with new research on how to distract the brain away from focusing too much on specific athletic …

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Defining The Athletic Brain

via Axon Sports

Axon Sports is proud to be the cognitive training and protection partner of American Youth Football, the world’s largest football training organization. Recently, AYF asked our own Jason Cromer, lead cognitive neuroscienist at Axon, to describe what we call The Athletic Brain for their players and coaches.  The article below first appeared on the AYF site. By Jason Cromer, Ph.D. Yogi Berra may have been ahead of his time when he famously said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”  For many sports, including football, an emphasis on cerebral skills is seen as the last frontier for performance improvement.  While traditional sport psychology focuses on the motivational side …

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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

via Axon Sports

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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Mirror Neurons Help Explain Why Baseball Hitting Is Contagious

via Axon Sports

One of baseball’s well worn axioms is that “hitting is contagious.”  Once a few batters get on base, those hitting behind them rally at the plate.  In fact, MLB batting averages are roughly 50%–70% higher for a batter following hits by the previous two batters as compared to outs made by the previous two batters.  While baseball theorists have explanations for this such as rattled pitchers or motivated hitters, recent cognitive science research points to a unique learning system in our brains known as mirror neurons. When a young player picks up a bat for the first time, they begin a long process of education that relies heavily on imitation.  Watching …

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