Despite some nudging by individual teams, Major League Baseball is taking technology baby steps. Earlier this year it lifted its ban of smartphones, tablets and laptops in the dugout and inked a deal with Apple for iPad Pros.
The Cincinnati Reds were early adopters, participating in a MLB pilot program allowing iPads in the dugout in 2015. According to Reds Assistant General Manager Sam Grossman, originally teams could only have PDFs on the iPads. He says, "Now it's expanded a little bit where you can add video. You can add images."
All the coaches in the Reds dugout have an iPad. Grossman emphasizes the iPad is primarily used as an on-the-spot refresher because players and coaches do research ahead of time.
Part of the research is done on the plane. The Reds load the smartphones and iPads of players and coaches with video and stats.
Here's how the iPad can help:
- Video of a new pitcher
- Video of a pick off move
- Spray charts
- Player positioning
Major League Baseball houses so many stats Grossman, who has a math degree, looks forward to the day it starts pushing some of that information out for use by the teams. He says what the team has in the dugout now is not as advanced as what fans can see on GAMEDAY. Right now teams aren't allowed to connect the iPads to the Internet in the dugout.
"And I think if they ever opened the floodgates, teams would be putting a lot of resources into that concept." Grossman says, "You could have something like knowing who is on the bench for each team, how many pitchers are in the bullpen, outcomes could be simulated."
Not all MLB coaches are jumping onboard. Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates told MLB.com, "I won't be using one. That's why I have coaches, so they can use them and give me the information."