by Caleb Thomas
Baseball is at a turning point as technology and analytics have altered the foundations of the game.
What started at the professional level has moved to college, and Troy wants to be on the cutting edge of that. The Trojans use TrackMan and Rapsodo technology to capture raw data, and there are a multitude of programs and sites that can display results in different ways.
These systems can track nearly anything, from the launch angle of a baseball to the spin rate on a pitch. Being able to create a graphic showing every pitch from a player used to be a luxury, but in recent years, analytics have gained traction in the college game.
“You’re looking at this five-year window where it’s gone from nobody has it to now, everyone is getting it,” said Troy baseball Head Coach Skylar Meade. “This is before I became the coach here, but we were the second team in the Sun Belt to get [tracking systems.]”
While the tracking equipment itself is becoming more common, Meade acknowledges the importance of successfully using the data acquired from it.
“Now that you see it everywhere, the change has gone from ‘do you have it’ to ‘what do you do with it,’” said Meade.
Analytical data has changed the game due to the wide variety of uses it has, and its ability to present the game from a different perspective.
“[Analytics] can be used to coach up a player, it can be used as a separator in recruiting, or it can be a piece to promote your product,” said Meade. “In the end, you’re trying to find how you can use it to serve your players.”
One of the reasons that analytics are so helpful, according to Meade, is because they put a concrete number to what’s happening on the diamond.
“It goes from ‘my opinion is’ to ‘here’s the reality,’” said Meade. “You might have to show that to a player and say, ‘here’s why we have to change something in your arsenal.’”
One of the things that sets Troy’s baseball analytics apart from other college baseball programs is the unique way they use social media to present analytics to fans. On Twitter, the Troy Baseball Analytics account has “Whammy Wednesday” and “Four Bagger Friday,” which showcase the most impressive pitch and home run from that week’s practices.
The tweets show a video clip, along with data from the play. According to Meade, the social media videos create an identity for the team and foster competition in the clubhouse. Both Meade and Director of Player Development and Analytics Joe Bialkoski said the players “love” being featured on the account.
“We’re in the exposure age,” said Meade. “Everything that goes on, you can see, and we might as well showcase something that’s going to help us win.”
Troy looks to build off a 32-24 season in 2022, as the Trojans enter Skylar Meade’s second year at the helm. The Trojans are set to begin play on Friday at 4 p.m. against Evansville at the newly renovated Riddle-Pace Field.