Arizona High Schools, Colleges Turning To Baseball Analytics, Technology

Grand Canyon University uses a system called Synergy to track in-game numbers and compile pitching and hitting reports for upcoming opponents. Baseball analytics isn’t just for the pros as colleges and high schools are also going that route. (Photo courtesy of GCU Athletics)

By Joshua Iversen and Koki Riley

PHOENIX – GateWay Community College coach Rob Shabansky admits he wasn’t a huge fan of technology and analytics in baseball.

He didn’t understand its true purpose, or the information it produced. He couldn’t grasp how this data could help improve the performance of his players on the diamond.

Shabansky, like many others in the baseball industry, was skeptical of this numbers-based approach.

“A lot of that information was, to a certain degree, recoded for people who really knew it,” Shabansky said. “But if you didn’t know it, you didn’t get much from it.”

Then Shabansky started talking to coaches he trusted in the collegiate and professional ranks who were familiar with the data, like Vanderbilt pitching coach Scott Brown and Arizona pitching coach Nate Yeskie. The more he learned from their experiences and about the data itself, the more he wanted to learn about how he could use it, too.

Shabansky’s views began to change and he isn’t alone in embracing a new approach. Across all levels of baseball in Arizona, coaches and players are following the lead of Major League Baseball innovators and turning their attention toward analytics-based development.

(Video by Joshua Iversen/Cronkite News)

Even some high schools have gone that route although it is still more exception than rule. Cronkite News surveyed various Arizona high school baseball coaches and asked them to rank their use of analytics compared to their competitors on a scale of one to 10. The average score among 30 respondents was 4.6.

For Shabansky, “I think when it really clicked with me was two summers ago and I was spending some time with USA Baseball. (Brown) was there helping us and kind of breaking the data down and how they use it and really just helping me look at it a little bit differently.

“I was really trying to learn it and understand it.”

He began to see how analytical tools, like Rapsodo and TrackMan, could help the development of his players.

And now GateWay’s baseball program has its own Rapsodo technology.