The Future of Baseball Analytics – Cognitive Intelligence

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I am a naturally inquisitive guy. In fact, the statistical side of baseball really appeals to me because it’s a direction to the path of knowledge. With more information and data, we can more appropriately get closer to a conclusion or at least a very sound hypothesis. Sometimes we sit and wait until the data collects, but other times a few great minds come together and create something revolutionary.

That is exactly what I found when I looked up the schedule for the upcoming 2012 SABR Analytics Conference in Mesa, AZ. Often times I’m saying “hey, that’s pretty cool!” and doing a little research on the topic and that’s really where it ends. However, the topic that Corrine Vitolo of SmartKage is speaking about moved me so much that I had to sit back for a bit and think about how immensely important the work being conducted by the people at SmartKage are doing.

What SmartKage is doing is the next wave of Sabermetrics. They’re taking the market inefficiencies out of the scouting and giving you cold hard facts. Essentially, Billy Beane “knew” this fact already when he started to draft players with plate discipline and a keen batting eye, but he didn’t know how to find those players until their sample sizes grew enough to point the finger. Those days may be long gone by the time this new technology arrives on the scene. SmartKage is finding out who’s got the OBP potential before he steps in a batters box by measuring an athletes cognitive ability.

By measuring an athletes cognitive ability, you have a massive edge in baseball, and for other sports for that matter. What you’re doing is finding out who has the fastest reaction times and ability to process information the quickest. If you’ve ever stood in a batters box and faced a guy with good stuff or watched a pitcher with nasty movement, you’ve likely wondered like I have how the hitters even have a chance. After all, how do they recognize the spin of the ball and react in time?

This may answer why a guy like Mariano Rivera has been successful for so long with only one pitch. The cut-fastball, or “cutter”, cuts down your ability to recognize the pitch’s flight path until later than other pitches like a curveball or a slider. There are hitters who have had great success against Rivera for seemingly no reason, perhaps this technology will tell us why. When you begin to think about the amount of concepts this will help clarify, it’s astounding. Be on the lookout for SmartKage information and articles as they prepare to install their systems around the country this fall.

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