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For Baseball Scouts, Another Tool for Spotting Talent?

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WEDNESDAY, Jan. 17, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Computer testing of baseball players might identify those most likely to be the next Mike Trout or Derek Jeter, a new study claims.

Attempting to predict the best of the best, Duke University researchers studied more than 250 professional players on major and minor league teams in the United States. The athletes completed nine vision, sensory and motor testing exercises on large touch-screen stations.

Those with higher scores on the computer tests also had better on-base percentages, more walks and fewer strikeouts on the field -- what's called plate discipline.

"This information could be useful in scouting," said study author Kyle Burris, a statistician and doctoral candidate at Duke.

However, higher computer tests scores were not associated with better pitching performance.

"There has been a data revolution in the game of baseball over the past decade with the introduction of technologies that track the speed and movement of every pitch, the location of players in the field, and other tools that can quantify player performance like never before," said Burris.

"In this study, we wanted to quantify the links between an athlete's senses such as eyesight and motor control using task scores and game performance," he said in a university news release. "We found positive relationships between several tasks and performance for hitters, but not for pitchers."

The researchers can't say there's a cause-and-effect relationship between higher scores on the tasks and performance in games. "But there was an association in the real-world data we evaluated," Burris said.

Besides aiding scouts, this information might provide possible training targets to improve on-field performance, Burris said.

The study was published online recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

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SOURCE: Duke University, news release, January 2018
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