Improvements in training the final frontier in MLB performance

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 10: Matt Cain /
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Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images /

Fans have been enthralled by the home run spike in MLB since the second half of 2015. While many things are being debated, one area seems overlooked – improved training in MLB athletes.

The home run spike in MLB has accompanied a significant increase in the average velocity in pitches thrown. Over the last 15 years, the average velocity of pitches has climbed 3 MPH. The number of pitchers throwing 100+ in a season used to be one or two, and now every team seemingly has one or two pitchers on the MLB roster that can reach back for triple-digit velocity.

While many have theorized that perhaps a change in the ball or the bat has been responsible for the increase in home runs, many MLB players have begun to seek out the assistance of private hitting instructors and specific baseball trainers who are focusing more on smart training to improve baseball play, not just have a player look good in his uniform as many personal trainers that a player could hire at his local gym may provide.

A number of private instructors have really become quite well known through their work with hitter swing path and hitter approach at the plate, but a few places are working on the whole player, from training the body to training the mind to learning the mechanics of the game in such a way to both maximize performance of the game and minimize injury and/or damage from the game. One of the industry leaders in that realm is Driveline Baseball. Driveline’s research associate Michael O’Connell was gracious enough to field a number of questions and provide some excellent insight into exactly what Driveline is doing in their part of training a better baseball player. Because much of the question on training starts at a young age, many of the questions focus on training of high school and younger athletes in this interview.

We will be breaking these down in the following way:

Monday: Training specifically for baseball
Tuesday: Working with pitchers
Wednesday: Weight room work
Thursday: Tailoring a proper swing
Friday: What’s next?

With that, we’ll start with today’s focus on sport-specific training on baseball.