Apple and Major League Baseball have signed a multi-year agreement that will see Apple furnish iPad Pro tablets for use in the dugout by Coaches. In the past, managers and coaches have made use of notebooks and binders to keep track of data.
MLB Dugout app displaying a pitch frequency chart – Credit: Wall Street Journal
Teams will be able sift through performance stats from current and past seasons, weigh potential pitcher-hitter matchups, look at “spray charts” showing where a player is likely to hit a ball, even cue up videos of plays from previous games.
Each team will make use of 12.9-inch iPad Pros, equipped with protective cases sporting the team’s logo. Apple has worked with MLB’s Advanced Media division to build the “MLB Dugout” app, which will serve as a central repository for data used by coaches and managers, such as performance stats, pitcher-hitter matchups, pitching range, and more.
“We’re not just replacing binders with tablets, we’re actually helping them do things that weren’t possible before,” Phil Schiller, Apple SVP of marketing, told the Journal.
Each team will be able to view only their own data, which will be updated before each game. Future versions may support real-time data. The software first began testing during last year’s postseason playoffs.
Major League Baseball is late to the game when it comes to professional leagues using tablets. The National Football League and the National Basketball Association both have used tablets for years. Microsoft signed a deal with the NFL for their Surface tablets to be used exclusively on the sideline. Sadly for Microsoft, the relationship has been marred by tablet failures and announcers who insist calling the tablets, an “iPad.”
While all teams in the NFL are required to have the Microsoft Surface present and visible on the sideline during games, iPad Pro use will be optional. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred doesn’t think that will be an issue, saying he thinks most teams will use them, hopefully helping to speed up a traditionally slow-moving sport.