How To Use Data

By Pierce Jones –


In today’s game, pitch tracking is everywhere. It is new, exciting, and filled with numbers that can give great insight but may also be a bit confusing when all laid out for someone just getting the hang of it. Here at The Ranch, we primarily utilize the Trackman System to collect the data on our pitchers. Typically, MLB organizations use the Trackman System the most, so for us, it is incredibly beneficial to compare those numbers “apples-to-apples” for the athletes we see.


Trackman has various breakdowns on the system, such as the Measure of Full Ball Trajectory and Spin, Vertical Release Angle, Horizontal Movement, Vertical Movement, Release Speed, Spin Rate, Spin Axis, Release Height, Release Side, Extension, Vertical Release Angle, Horizontal Release Angle, Spin Efficiency, Active Spin, Gyro Angle, and Measured Tilt. With all these data points being considered when a single pitch is thrown, I think you can now see how it can become a bit confusing for pitchers to know exactly what they are looking at or need to look for.


Over the years, The Ranch has seen vast amounts of success in prioritizing pitchers’ inefficiencies and hyper-personalizing their plans specifically to them in order to see the best results. That same scenario is now taken into effect for the data realm here. It happens too often that guys come in during our Summer Program or for private sessions and want to utilize the Trackman to collect data. However, they have no idea of the true reasoning behind why they are using it or what they are looking for. There are different avenues that I would strongly suggest guys take advantage of when looking at their data so as to be very specific in an area and not become overwhelmed with all the other points of the system.


There are three major points I will hit on as, of course, there are various correlations to look at, but these are really dissecting it for some Data 101. 


The first point is going to be how your pitches work. Oftentimes, the human eye cannot pick up exactly how a pitch is working towards the plate or the exact movement of that pitch. With so many guys utilizing off-speed pitches more and more, this can be an extremely important area to ensure differentiation from those off-speed pitches. A great example of this would be the curveball and slider. If a pitcher throws both of these pitches in his arsenal, it happens so often that the overlay is the same, and there is no true difference. Typically, the most common result is that these pitches are both in a slurve-style shape. Although they might have some slight differences in how they break vertically or horizontally, the hitter will still pick that up as almost the same pitch. With the data points tracked, you are now able to start designing these pitches to be different and create a true curve and slider.


The second point is how you can attack the strike zone with these pitches. A great example of this is going to be specifically on the fastball. There is a data point that you want to look at: Induced Vertical Break on the fastball. This could potentially open up some doors for you to attack the zone. The higher the number is on the Induced Vertical Break, the more you are going to want to pitch up in the zone with that fastball as it generates swings and misses. This typically happens whenever a pitcher is able to really stay behind the ball and create what is called a “carrying fastball.”


Now, of course, the ball does not actually carry up into the zone, as that would be impossible since gravity is always acting upon the ball. However, it has an effect on the pitch, and the human eye struggles to pick that up in the upper part of that zone. This causes the swing-and-miss underneath the ball. A great example of this is Gerrit Cole with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In Pittsburgh, Gerrit was working towards being a sinker/slider guy and getting ground ball outs. Gerrit was not the most successful with that attack style, so when he arrived with the Houston Astros, he was able to redesign how he attacked the zone with his pitch mix. He started to utilize his fastball up in the zone and saw much more success over time. 


The last point I will touch on will be tunneling. Especially at the younger level, it can be hard for pitchers to stay consistent and have the same launch/release with all their pitches. As you continue to climb up the ladder of baseball, the hitters get tougher and tougher. This makes it essential to try and create the same overlay for these pitches coming out of the hand. It happens so often that guys let up a little bit on the change-up, causing a shift in how the launch happens, or with the slider and trying to drop the arm slot to get a more horizontal break. These may be effective for a short period of time or for a young gun, but in the long term, this will be detrimental to how the hitter sees those pitches and if it tips them off to “attack.” 


All in all, there is still so much being learned and utilized with data that what we see now could significantly change in five years. Do not become so caught up in the numbers all the time, as you still have to play the game and face a hitter. Even those out there with the best possible data points will still have a bad game where they get lit up on the mound… That’s just baseball. The biggest takeaway from this post is that you should focus on simplifying the points and areas within your data and work there to see those results really take off. 


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Important TBR Updates


  • Our Winter Elite Pitchers Boot Camps are filling up. You can visit our website to learn more and register. We hope to see you at one of these camps!

– December 27-29, 2023 (Spots limited)
– January 13-15, 2024 (Spots limited)
– February 17-19, 2024 (final camp until May)

Have you been considering attending one of our 3-Day Elite Pitchers Bootcamp but haven’t yet pulled the trigger? To help, we have a detailed mailing package entitled “What Makes This Boot Camp Different”. If you’d like to receive this package, email and request a copy.


  • Attention Coaches! You can still register for our ONE DAY Pitching Coaches Event taking place at The Ranch on Dec. 15th with a meet and greet the evening of Dec.14th. The emphasis for this year’s event is “Practical Application for Game Time Performance” focusing on not just maintaining but actually improving your pitchers’ command, velocity, secondary stuff and recovery IN SEASON. If you’d like more information on the event email To register for the event CLICK HERE.


  • We have revamped our YouTube Channel “Texas Baseball Ranch – Ultimate Pitching Training” (@TXBaseballRanch) and would love for you to check it out and subscribe.  Doing so will notify you of additional content being added which we’re doing regularly now.  CLICK HERE to check it out and let us know what you think!


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