Nats’ Strategy & Tech Group

Do you know those devices attached to tripods around the batting cages and pitcher’s mounds? Those are the tools that have transformed the game in what Jayson Werth once said was a sign that the “super nerds” were taking over. If Werth only knew how much nerdier baseball has become since he last played in the Majors in 2017. Baseball is still evolving with better technology. The Washington Nationals have all of the toys for what they hope will be one of the most advanced pitching and hitting labs in baseball.

The team just purchased the Force Plate system to add as another tool for their newly formed Strategy & Tech group. Force Plate measures the pitchers, hitters, baserunners, and fielders from their feet, legs and lower body, and is the first technology to do this. The Nationals also have their Trackman, Rapsodo, and Hawkeye systems to track everything else.

Yes, the Strategy & Tech group is made up of super nerds, and they all know baseball. That is a prerequisite to be hired. Many have played the game, even though none played professionally. These high-tech tools will add data for the Strategy & Tech group to analyze in a convergence of biomechanics, medical staff, kinesiologists, physicists, and analytic savants to make each player better.

To give you a visual look and explanation on Force Plate, here is a video:

Many fans complained that the Nats were behind the times in the super nerd game until last year. It was mind-blowing to hear that former Nats pitcher, Erick Fedde, had never been to a pitching lab before he was non-tendered after the 2022 season. Younger pitchers like Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge were going to pitching labs when they were in college. Driveline and Cressey Sports Performance have been at the top of the food chain for players, and there are many others at facilities with tools and instruction for their players. This is big business now for players to get into these labs. If players aren’t doing this, you have a problem.

The first key to knowing you have a problem is to admit you have a problem — and it really is on the team to make players accountable. Now you have manager Dave Martinez and his MLB staff responsible for all of the players on the 40-man roster with some crossover with the VP of Player Development, Eddie Longosz, who is responsible for all of those top prospects plus the minor leaguers.

There is also the wearable technology that some players use like the Motus Baseball Sleeve that measures stress on elbows, and the Zephyr Bioharness monitors heart, breathing rates, and fatigue. We all remember the controversy last season with the Blast Motion sensor on a bat that Martinez objected to that Elly De La Cruz of the Reds was using. Some players use the Diamond Kinetics sensor system. There are others too. This is just a sampling of names you might have heard of.

You might be a super nerd and wear that badge proudly. Part of life is embracing change and keep an open mind. While many of us love Werth, he was wrong on the analytics evolution. Max Scherzer was doing his own analytics for nearly a decade and while he was Werth’s teammate in Washington. The teams that embraced it early-on and implemented it had an edge over the competition. The Nationals are trying to leapfrog the competition on technology and analytics, and much of what they are doing in the Strategy & Tech group is top secret stuff. What we want to see is how it makes Rizzo’s players better.

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