February 14, 2017
Welcoming Instructional Design Into Player Development
The things that we, the public, know about baseball in 2017 are truly staggering. With Statcast we can measure launch angle and exit velocity. With PITCHf/x and Brooks Baseball we can figure out which slider has the most break, who repeats their release point the best, and nearly every tiny data point about the flight of a pitch. With Baseball Prospectus, Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, Retrosheet, and more we have the most comprehensive dataset of player performance and statistical analysis in the history of athletic endeavor.
But what do we really know about how a player like Matt Carpenter goes from 13th-round pick to superstar, why a talent like Brandon Wood never succeeds, or how a leg kick and a change of mind transform some players into superstars while others see no shift at all? I’m not certain there’s any part of baseball that’s less understood in the public sphere than player development. Each franchise employs a dedicated, highly-trained staff to assist players in reaching their potential and improving their skills. From coaching in instructs all the way up to the majors, conditioning and training specialists, and even psychological and “mental skills” assistance, teams are putting a huge amount of effort into transforming potential into performance.
When it comes to specifics, that’s where things get kind of foggy.