gameSense Sports recently had the opportunity to work with the Cincinnati Reds during Spring Training. Like every MLB team, the Reds are exploring all the potential technologies that can help them win more games. Everything from accelerometers and heart rate monitors to virtual reality (VR) and ball tracking. The Reds, however, are at the forefront of pitch recognition (PR) testing and training. They recognize the importance of PR and trust scientific research and experts, like us. That’s why the Reds brought us in to test all their minor league players, as well as some major leaguers.
We used our standardized PR Pitch-IQ™ test to see which players can accurately pick up the type and location of pitches. And as expected, we found some of their players are very good at this task, while others were not so good. A player’s PR score also tends to correlate with a player’s on field statistics. Good PR bodes well for a batter and provides the attributes teams are looking for. The better your recognition skills the less you strike out, the more you walk, the more extended at bats you have and the higher your slugging percentage is.
We’ll retest after the season to see how each player’s PR scores have changed. We predict that most players will improve their PR over the season. Why? Because the only way to train PR is to see pitches. These guys will see hundreds, some thousands of pitches, before the season ends. Our prediction gets to the heart of all this. PR is not something you are born with. No one comes out of the womb with the ability to pick up a curve or a cutter. You can only acquire this skill through practice….seeing quality pitches. So a player may have a pretty swing, but without the ability to accurately anticipate where and when a ball will be to hit it, they have little chance. High PR is not always essential to success, but sooner or later their ability to see pitches propels them to the top or drags them down.