The Oakland Athletics are using VR headsets to prepare for MLB games, with hitters able to watch virtual visualizations of a pitcher’s throw before playing against them in real life.
According to MLB.com, the application and programming is done by WIN Reality VR, and allows players to simulate at-bats against virtual pitchers, designed to emulate the velocity, pitch movement and release point of real-life pitchers. For players like Matt Olsen from the Oakland Athletics, this allows them to examine a pitcher’s throw in VR before playing a game against them.
If you’re going up against someone for the first time, being able to watch a simulation the match is a huge advantage. This is exactly what Olson did before he went up against the Tigers starter José Ureña last week.
“I haven’t used it as much during the season but I like to do it on guys I haven’t seen before because it gives you a decent idea of what their motion is like and how their stuff moves,” Olson said, speaking to MLB.com. “I’ll try to watch mainly the dudes that I haven’t seen before to see what the ball looks like coming out of their hand.”
Olson also said he plans to use VR again this week before his matchup against Tigers starter Casey Mize. It’s not just Olson either — others are also apparently dipping their toes into VR training. “I know some guys have it on their own and they do it at home,” Olson said. “I can’t say exactly how many guys are using it. I know some guys aren’t on it and some guys are. It’s kind of like a personal preference thing.”
Manager Bob Melvin said that the team would continue to use VR as an option for training, as it allows the players to get “as close a look as you possibly can” to the other team ahead of a game, especially if it’s a first matchup.