Using golf radar to better Cardinals pitchers

The St. Louis Cardinals use a radar system designed for golf to study everything about a pitcher's delivery.

While golf is the time-tested off-day activity preferred by many baseball players, the St. Louis Cardinals have taken the two-sport association to an entirely different level.

Since at least 2009, the organization has been utilizing a radar system widely-accepted for golf swing and ball flight analysis and applying it to the act of throwing a baseball.

The "TrackMan" system was developed by a Danish firm and is endorsed by dozens of the PGA's best, including Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. The capability is installed at Busch Stadium, in Jupiter, Florida's Roger Dean Stadium and other minor league parks as well. The large receiver is shown below at RDS (top center of photo).

The system, which also includes a portable unit that can be deployed in the bullpen, was used below by Cardinals mechanics analyst and pitching rehab coordinator Tim Leveque with minor league hurler Jeff Rauh during extended spring training camp.

Rauh pitching; Leveque, TrackMan watching

Comparing TrackMan to a standard radar gun would be like contrasting a supercomputer with an abacus.

Over a dozen different measurements are captured by the sophisticated radar system. Data collected includes MPH at release, RPM, tilt, vertical release (the angle out of the hand), horizontal release, extension (in feet and inches), release side, release height, time of flight, vertical break, horizontal break and plate height.

TrackMan can identify the type of pitch thrown (from nine choices), with the data completely sortable. Leveque explained that a changeup may have the lowest rotation, around 1800 RPM, while a typical fastball might be the 2100 range and a curve could even be higher.

During spring training and extended spring training, the Cardinals deploy TrackMan with every pitcher to establish a baseline of data that can be used over time to measure progress as well as suggest adjustments.

"It is meant to be an interactive tool that you can use pitch-to-pitch - or after the bullpen, you can review all the pitches in total," Leveque said.

In the following exclusive interview, Leveque explains how TrackMan works and how he and other Cardinals coaches use it along with video and other tools to help their pitchers improve mechanical elements of their delivery.


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