War tech can help baseball’s struggling lineups


GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Tim Anderson wanted to study his swing. After a season hampered by groin and arm injuries, the Chicago White Sox shortstop wanted a more fluid approach at the plate.

That job led him to Driveline Baseball, first to the company’s main factory in Washington, D.C., and then to its Arizona outpost.

“They showed me a lot. Break everything from scratch,” Anderson said. “They’ve got everything you really want to see.”

The competition continues behind closed doors at places like Driveline and Baseball Performance Lab in Louisiana, and in unmarked buildings in the major leagues. Some of baseball’s brightest minds are working on the gap between the technology available to Anderson and other big league hitters and the technology behind the pitching renaissance.

Forget trying to find a lost swing, or go around the batting cage. Batters now have high-speed cameras to report subtle mechanical adjustments. They use pitchers that mimic Justin Verlander’s curveball or Shohei Ohtani’s split. Some even envision a future where many of the best players in the game will choose between specialized bats based on specific matchups or situations — much like golfers choose between a wedge and a 9-iron.

They need all the help they can get. The major league batting average dipped to .243 last season, the lowest since 1968. The only seasons with lower averages were the 1968 record .237 and the 1967 dead ball seasons of 1884, 1888 and 1908.

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