Previously, we’ve got mentioned a few of the KPIs and metrics the Driveline hitting department uses to both quantify athlete results and measure trainer performance. Within the pitching division, we focus particularly on a handful of metrics, all of which we are going to focus on in forthcoming weblog posts.
When figuring out which metrics to prioritize, we needed to ensure that monitoring and reporting these internally would assist us assess whether or not our present coaching methods and protocols had been working whereas ALSO serving to us consider the person performances of our ability coaches. We maintain every member of the division and finally the whole firm accountable for these outcomes.
Do athletes get higher? How good are our ability coaches? Are we bettering all facets of pitching improvement? That is what issues to us.
Fastball velo gained
For now, we are going to give attention to one factor: velocity. We all know that velocity is one of the most important metrics in pitching. Beforehand, we’ve got mentioned how a lot value can be created by developing it at the minor league level. As well as, whereas it’s been some time since we did after-the-fact analyses of athlete outcomes (2018 summer edition), as we gear up for the 2021 summer time, we needed to introduce a couple of from the final couple years.
This piece is strictly about how a lot fastball velocity was gained by pitchers who assessed, educated, and retested (no less than as soon as) at Driveline from roughly summer time 2019 on. In fact, fastball velocity is just not the be-all-end-all of participant improvement, neither is it a spotlight for each single pitcher that walks by means of the doorways at Driveline.
Nonetheless, it’s a particularly vital indicator of success on the main league stage. To cite our past research on velocity’s impact on production: “A [MLB] pitcher who outperformed his fastball velocity projection [from 2013 to 2019] by +1 mph produced an RA9 that was .2443 factors decrease than anticipated, on common.”
Or, extra merely, gaining fastball velo has an excessive affect on an athlete’s efficiency ceiling, so we take nice care in monitoring it.
Velocity as a KPI
Given the number of focuses of of our in-gym athletes, we standardize pitching flooring velocity beneficial properties as a KPI utilizing the velocities from our movement seize evaluation. All athletes throw within the mocap lab on Day 1 (or when they’re in any other case fairly wholesome and on-boarded as much as sport velocity).
For retest functions, we’ll usually retest gamers each 6 weeks (+/- every week or two) to evaluate mechanical adjustments and procure a constant measure of their throwing velocity. Thus, the numbers beneath replicate athletes who’ve educated right here for no less than 1 such coaching block, which we really feel permits sufficient time—given the nonlinear nature of beneficial properties—to seize notable adjustments with out the each day variation that’s pure in the middle of coaching.
We’ll take a look at some basic stats to get began.
The chart beneath reveals statistics for the athletes who’ve educated at Driveline over the previous two years. We see that the typical beginning velocity and velocity gained whereas coaching at DL each climb from 2019 to 2020 (offseason and summer time coaching durations). This low season, the typical keep for athletes was longer, which might doubtless be credited to a rise in long-term trainees associated to flexibility and uncertainty round COVID.
Equally, with the ability shut down for the primary half of the 2020 summer time, no athletes had been in a position to get in two coaching blocks earlier than summer time ended.
Wanting extra particularly on the distribution of velocity beneficial properties by seasonal coaching block quite than over the athlete’s total keep, we see these will increase from 2019 to 2020 stay constant.
The twenty fifth, fiftieth, and seventy fifth percentile velocity beneficial properties (the darkish orange vertical traces within the graphs above) are additionally indicated beneath.
Returning to velocity beneficial properties accrued throughout an athlete’s keep, the chart beneath teams athletes into mph increments and reveals the quantity and general share of athletes who fall into every increment.
Amongst athletes with no less than one coaching block at Driveline, 52% gained greater than 1 mph of their retest, 27% maintained about the identical velo (+/- 1 mph), and 21% misplaced velocity within the final mocap retest of their keep.
We see that athletes who prepare on the facility for longer achieve extra velocity—on common—than those that keep for shorter durations of time.
One other notable pattern that we’ve noticed prior to now and which holds true on this pattern of athletes is that it’s usually more durable to realize velocity for arduous throwers. This is because of quite a lot of components, together with the relative lack of low hanging fruit to deal with mechanically or bodily, together with the truth that tougher throwers could also be extra targeted on different areas of improvement, similar to pitch design, command, or just getting game-like reps to arrange for the season.
Quite a few athletes have educated with us throughout a number of journeys to the gymnasium, usually together with on-line coaching in-between to proceed working in the direction of their objectives.
To incorporate the progress of those athletes over an extended time interval, we are able to additionally evaluate all athletes’ first mocap on file (on this case since April 2019) with their most up-to-date mocap.
The twenty fifth, fiftieth, and seventy fifth percentiles are once more marked with darkish orange traces and are proven within the desk beneath—with athletes gaining 1.8 mph on common (imply achieve).
As above, we are able to achieve a bit extra perception by additionally contemplating how lengthy athletes had between their first and final mocaps.
We see athletes with an extended Driveline coaching historical past on common had larger beneficial properties throughout every of the buckets. For the 35 athletes who’ve educated with us over the course of a number of off-seasons or over a full hole 12 months (greater than 200 days between their first and final mocaps), we see common velo beneficial properties of three.29 mph.
As referenced above, we see it’s tougher for athletes to realize extra velocity the tougher they begin off throwing. Even so, athletes who throw reasonably arduous are in a position to achieve velocity on common (although these beneficial properties are naturally smaller than for athletes who begin off throwing slower) over the long run.
Coaching for velocity is attainable. We show that right here each single day and maintain ourselves accountable, monitoring velocity beneficial properties as one in every of our Pitching Division’s important KPIs. If you wish to throw tougher, that is the best place in the world that will help you try this.
Velocity is just not the one factor
All that stated, we all know that velocity is not the only thing that matters close to being a profitable pitcher and getting hitters out. Due to that, it’s not the one factor the pitching division at Driveline focuses on when coaching athletes, and it’s not the one KPI we use to judge our proficiency at bettering efficiency.
In future posts, we are going to focus on our pitch design KPIs, Athlete Composite Scores, MPH per Varus monitoring and the way we quantify the athlete’s general coaching expertise.
Written by David Besky – Information Scientist, Alex Caravan – Director of Information Science and Invoice Hezel – Director of Pitching