Baseball may have a reputation for being an old, stuffy game that is resistant to change, but buying that line of thought would be willfully ignoring the steps that baseball, from MLB on down to little leagues everywhere, has taken to embrace technology of the 21st century. Things like Statcast, instant replay, advanced analytics and MLB Advanced Media show that this game loves it’s numbers and it’s technology.
This is where Mike Trout, Old Hickory and Zepp come into play, as they unveiled their collaborative Smart Bat back in February, introducing the next evolutionary step in baseball training. Rex Fregosi really nailed that article, and what the Smart Bat can do in terms of helping players:
The new modification in the Old Hickory wood bat is a 30.8 mm by 28 mm cavity in the knob to house the removable sensor. The versatility allows athletes to charge their Zepp sensor in or out of the bat that is easily removed and locked into place with a turn of the magnetic charger. The sensor itself is an ARM processor with Bluetooth communication and includes dual accelerometers and a 3-axis gyroscope and while over 1000 data points are available for a swing, this ties into Zepp’s software app that can be installed on any Apple or Android device, and they have boiled the software interface down into five simple metrics: Bat Speed Impact, Hand Speed Max, Time to Impact, Attack Angle, and Bat Vertical Angle.
Now, look...this may seem like we’re veering into advertorial territory, but from the moment I learned about Zepp’s Baseball 2 sensor and the accompanying Smart Bat by Old Hickory, I genuinely felt this was the next big thing for young players to use and go crazy over. Rex’s coverage of the unveiling just solidified that feeling; Trout’s Smart Bat is a legitimate game changer.
February was just the public’s first look at this product, but now they’ve officially been made available to purchase via Zepp or Old Hickory. To mark this occasion, some of the media were invited to the Big A this past Tuesday to talk to Mike Trout, and watch him take a commemorative first swing.
More importantly, he invited 10 kids from Vineyard Little League, in Rancho Cucamonga, to hang out, ask questions and get a look at the future. This is this product’s wheelhouse: youngsters, who have grown up with every other piece of data imaginable readily available to them via smart phone, now have a similar tool for baseball that will help coach them to hit better than they ever thought they could.
If I’ve failed to give you enough proof of this products potential impact on a generation of players, then just look at the organizations that have approved it for use in amateur tournament games: Prospect Wire, Perfect Game USA, Ripken Baseball and National Alliance of College Summer Baseball. On top of that, Zepp and Old Hickory have already begun talks with MLB regarding the use of the Smart Bat in Spring Training 2017. The Smart Bat is coming, ya’ll. It’s a matter of “When”, not “If”.
Oh, and by the way, Mike Trout learned on Tuesday that the Smart Bat has been accepted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Whole New Ballgame exhibit. Yep, this thing hasn’t been released for sale for more than a week, and it’s already sitting in the HOF.
I believe this is more than just a passing fad or disposable gadget; the Smart Bat is the real deal. We saw Mike Trout take a bunch of swings, much to the kids’ delight, and he was making contact like he would with any other bat, only with this piece of lumber, he could stop in between swings, check his phone and see what adjustments (if any) that he should make.
It was a really fun day at the park with Trout, but it was made even better by the presence of those kids from Vineyard Little League. They got to see what they’d be asking their parents for come holiday season, while also getting to spend a good 10-15 minutes with Trout, who was so engaged and attentive to them that they probably left feeling like they’d just become best friends with the greatest ballplayer in the world. Judging from the huge smile on Trout’s face (the biggest I’ve ever seen on him at one of these media things), he’d probably say the feeling was mutual.
You are going to hear more and more about the Zepp/Old Hickory Smart Bat, I think. It may not be overnight, but it’ll happen. It just makes too much sense: the bleeding edge of actionable data and analytics, combined with a top baseball bat manufacturer and the stamp of approval from the best player on the planet. The future of baseball and technology is in some pretty great hands.
Check out the video below of the day’s proceedings, including the commemorative first swing and Trout having a ball his new buddies. I had a ton of fun, myself, and walked away as impressed as ever with Trout and everybody involved. The Smart Bat is now available for retail purchase on Zepp.com and OldHickoryBats.com. Thanks to Trout, Zepp and Old Hickory for having us out to the Big A, and a big shout out to Vineyard Little League.
( directed, filmed and edited by Tyler Dacey @daceyland)