How The Cincinnati Reds Will Use Tech To Coach Their Coaches
There is a lot of interesting information to be gleaned from the talks and other sessions at the American Baseball Coaches Association. Baseball America will be sharing some of what we saw over the next several days.
Kyle Boddy has been the Reds minor league pitching coordinator for only a few months. But he has had time to begin implementing many of the structures that he will be using. And in a talk at the ABCA, he laid out some of what will be the Reds pitching development philosophy.
As could be expected from the founder of Driveline Baseball, the approach will be data driven with an emphasis on measuring how pitchers improve. In turn, that improvement will measure the impact of the coaches.
“Our coaches are graded on skills progression,” Boddy said. “This guy came in throwing 90. At the end of the year, he averages 93. What did you do to do that? This guy had a 30 grade slider based on our data scientists, he now has a 65 grade slider. Why did that happen? How did you do that? What are we doing to make that happen? We are holding coaches accountable. And we are promoting them and celebrating them based on the work that they do.”
The data-driven approach will also stretch to measuring and recording the interactions between coaches and players. Boddy said that doing so ensures consistency in what pitchers are taught. It’s an idea he learned from a conversation with long-time coach Jerry Weinstein.
“We now videotape every single session our pitching coaches have with our athletes, not just training and exercising, which we do, but also in one-on-one sessions where they’re breaking down the data,” Boddy said.
In addition to videotaping, the Reds use the program Trint to automatically transcribe the conversations. Those transcripts provide searchable documents that can be used in a variety of ways.
“I'm looking for words. What we are not going to say is what I'm most interested in it,” Boddy said.
“If I see the word extension, it better be talking about an extension cord, an extension plug or a Web extension. We better not be talking about reaching out for extension. I'm gonna find that word and absolutely extinguish it from what we're talking about because that is not how we teach things.”
For some that will seem to be Orwellian. Big Brother is always watching. Boddy sees it as a necessary step for programs looking to continually improve.
“I've been asked by people, ‘well this coach feels that you don't trust them.’ I don't trust the blackjack dealer in my pit in the casino either. There are cameras watching them. It’s not about whether they're doing good or bad or whatever, this is just how we do things. if you want to take the argument from authority, Nick Saban and Bill Belichick videotape every single meeting and I'm not better Nick Saban. So there's that.
"And it's a really important thing for accurate feedback. From a pro perspective, imagine that the low Class A coach at Dayton is videotaping every meeting he has with an athlete and every bullpen. Now that athlete is promoted to (high Class A) Daytona Beach. It’s really far away. The Daytona Beach coach can review those videos, review those transcripts and call and speak to (the low Class A pitching coach). He can see how does this athlete learn? What works, what didn't. Instead of just having some sort of information from (the coach) which is helpful, he now can see it in action right now. It's extremely valuable.”