What Can We Learn?

In Blog, Hustle Podcast by Eric ByrnesLeave a Comment

As a baseball analyst (and now a baseball coach), I find myself in a very interesting position when it comes to digesting and sharing a lot of what many people refer to as new-age philosophical principles as well as a saber-metric revolution… 

Many baseball personnel and fans LOATH the mere mention of launch angle, exit velocity and wRC plus.

Part of me sympathizes with them… It was so much easier to understand the overall value of a player when all we had to do was analyze batting average, home runs and RBIs… Now we have to pay attention to BABIP’s, hard hit rates and barrels… Ugh. 🤦‍♂️How complicated… 

Actually, not that complicated at all.

All of these new numbers that have become readily available to coaches, players, analyst and fans alike, are there to help all of us better understand the past, current and future value of players.

When we are able to use science, math and analyze various environmental conditions often revealed in ballpark factors, we take much of the bullshit subjectivity out of our analysis. 

These studies and numbers also have the potential to help a player focus much more on the tangible process goals as opposed to the outcome. Ultimately, if the optimal launch angle for a home run is 27 degrees and ideal exit velocities are upwards of 100 mph, why would anyone not want to focus their work towards putting themselves in a position to achieve those numbers as frequently as possible? 

Just like life, the game and strategy of baseball is constantly changing. 

There is absolutely no reason to be scared or resent these changes… Change is actually what keeps things fresh and continues to challenge our intellect and perceived norms based on the fact “that’s just the way we have always done it.” 

Know what that is? 

Lazy, cop out, ‘I don’t want to do the work’ bullshit… 

For years, I was taught to swing down on the baseball to create backspin and carry, yet the reality was always that when I was able to optimally square up the ball, I would swing down to the location of the pitch, then slightly up to create the optimal launch angle & exit velocity… 

This ain’t rocket science and it’s not like it has never been taught before.

Ted Williams wrote an entire book on it called The Science of Hitting and it championed launch angle & exit velocity… I can see him rolling around in his frozen ice cube right now (yup, it’s true, his body has been preserved)… 

Charlie Lau taught many of the same principles as these new modern day swing coaches… The only difference is that the swing metrics are now quantifiable, giving us further information to optimize the swing and performance. 

Baseball is much like Stoic philosophy – Words and phrases have changed throughout the years… Yet, the search for the good life and the good swing is forever constant while the perspective, approach and analysis is forever changing.

Might as well see what we can learn. 🤷‍♂️