MLB – WILL OWNERSHIP OF ANALYTIC DATA BE AN ISSUE?

According to a March 25, 2015 article by SI’s Tom Verducci, an exciting new form of physical analytics will soon be used by MLB teams to help prevent injuries.

Called the “Profiler System”, it was first developed by the Irish sports tech company Kitman Labs for the Irish National Rugby team.   A similar version is being adapted for MLB.

Specifically, players go through a series of diagnostic physical tests including musculoskeletal, range of motion, and rotation assessment.  This data is combined with a player’s training schedule, game load, and injury and performance history which is all entered into a software program.

The results are used to keep track of a player’s wellness, identify injury risk, and also used as a diagnostic tool if a specific problem arises or if a player is experiencing performance issues.  The player’s team trainers then sit with doctors to come up with a “positive training intervention” to help prevent serious injury.

By actually using data collection that goes beyond, well, mere data collection, the computer program can set “marks” for each player’s motion and strength and help avoid injury.

Verducci indicates in his article that so far, only the Dodgers have signed on to use the system but the Giants and one other team have expressed interest in this technology.

But, curiously, the Dodgers have only used the Profiler System at the minor league level.  Verducci points out that when they attempted to use it in Spring Training this year with Major Leaguers, the Dodgers received “zero” compliance. He never explains why.

Of course, I don’t intend to go into a witch hunt here, but it does make me think that there could be bigger implications of MLB players not wanting to be tracked by diagnostic data similar to this program.

On the one hand, it’s good to monitor for any potential injury problem.

On the other hand, what if that same data is used beyond injury detection to carefully scrutinize a player’s performance and somehow, could used against them in the future?

For instance, if a player is declining in performance, or a sinister injury is diagnosed on the horizon, could the team use that data to trade the player?

Also, could a team share a player’s data with another team without the player’s consent?

Will participating in the system be voluntary?  Or, will it be mandatory for all players on the team that uses it?

And, with all of the speculation of PED use hovering around baseball, what if a player’s performance show a sudden marked improvement overall?  Would the player be suspected of artificially improving their fitness and strength through PEDs?

If anything, it would probably be prudent for players who agree to participate in any diagnostic sports science program to determine who owns the data and who the team will be able to share it with.

Perhaps the Player’s Union is already working on this.

Either way, I can see bigger legal problems with this useful software beyond simply tracking injury risk unless the parameters are clearly laid out ahead of time.

 


Sources :

Article - Tom Verducci dated 03/25/15 - : http://www.si.com/mlb/2015/03/25/kitman-labs-los-angeles-dodgers-stan-conte
Kitman Labs - Profiler System: http://kitmanlabs.com/products/profiler

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