It is no secret that player statistics are part of baseball. The idea of tracking and analyzing stats made mainstream news a few years ago with the release of Moneyball. While Moneyball covered the idea of output statistics, runs, hits, walks, there are input statistics as well. Input statistics are things that you can control. On an individual player level this means strength and technique.
We are former players and now coaches to little league teams, but wondering if what we learned is the right thing to teach. Baseball is a game of “feel” to many old timers, but these days players are wise to the science, namely physics and biology, that really makes up the game. To help figure all this out we went searching to find out what our own hitting stats were. We had a chance to checkout what advanced players, clubs, colleges, and even pros are looking at with their daily practice. This came in the form of the popular Rapsodo application and a handful of hitting clinics.
What is Rapsodo?
Rapsodo is founded on a camera system that can measure a ball at the point of impact or in the air. The primary diamond sport system is able to get stats including bay speed, exit velocity, launch angle, and spin rate. In the picture above the Rapsodo diamond camera sensor system is sitting about 10 feet in front of the batter.
Using these stats and some simple physics you can calculate where and how a ball will travel in the air. All of this information can be summarized and projected onto a TV near the batters box or to an iPad. This allows you to quick review your swing and make adjustments during a batting practice session.
What Does Rapsodo Measure?
If you are even a casual fan or have watched a major baseball or softball game in the past few years you will have seen hitting stats for big hitters.
Whether it’s watching the launch angel of a crushed ball or just the simple distance header meant of a home run derby it’s nice to put these big league stats into some context. Rapsodo measures nearly identical stats from what you would expect of a major broadcast. Here are the big ones:
Launch Angle – The way the ball travels off the bay is key to where it lands. Too high of a launch angel and the ball is never going out of the park. Negative launch angle is possible out of ground balls. So what is the ideal launch angle in baseball? The general thinking is that an ideal launch angle is around 20-22%. This results in the most home runs, while outside of this range is fine if you hit much harder and lower is potentially better if you are not a power hitter. If you are not a HR hitter bringing this angel down can avoid long fly balls.
Spin Rate – This stat is shown often for pitchers. How a ball spins through an air changes how much it curves, that includes how it curves up to gain a nicer altitude before dropping. Generally speaking the higher the ack spin the better.
Exit Velocity – Along with where a ball is going, how fast is key to ball flight. Higher exit velocity equates to more power. Hitting on a Rapsodo can be humbling when major leagues routinely report 100 MPH+ exit velocity.
Bat Speed – it’s hard to get high exit velocity if you can’t get high bat speed. This is a great input variable to look at to judge how much power you have the potential to generate. Even a perfectly hit ball with too low of bat speed simply won’t have enough momentum to provide the power needed for a ball to leave the field. Again when seeing major leaguers hit 80MPH, it is humbling to realize how many small twitch muscles must be optimized to get to that level.
Hit Location – The result of most of the above stats is that the machine can project where you will land the ball. Trying to pull the ball hard, or hit to an opposite field is something many work on during BP. This stat also makes for a fun game of HORSE or darts style scoring when competitively taking batting practice.
By combining the exit stats Rapsodo projects where a ball will land. This includes the distance and direction of the hit until it would land. It does not estimate how a ball will roll.
Where Can I Try A Rapsodo Machine?
This was the first question we asked after a few videos showed what the system can do. Even though the setup looks like a fun game. The cost of a Rapsodo machine for baseball or softball is around $10k plus a on-going license fee so finding a machine is not easy.
The most efficient way to find a Rapsodo is to reach out to baseball training facilities in your area.
We emailed he Rapsodo team directly and asked them if they knew of a setup in our location. They directed us to a local club and High School coach that they knew through customer support. A few text exchanges later we were able to get a one hour session at the cages of a local high school.
If you want to find a batting cage and Rapsodo training site, try reaching out to Rapsodo directly or googling nearby advanced hitting facilities.