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Apple’s iPad goes to bat for Major League Baseball

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Apple’s tablet will be in every Major League Baseball dugout this year, helping coaches assess players’ stats as part of a multi-year deal between the tech titan and the league to equip every team with iPad Pros, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The tablets will help coaches analyze players’ performance stats from current and previous seasons, weigh pitcher vs. hitter matchups, and display “spray charts” that show where a player is most likely to hit a ball in the field, even going so far as to cue up videos of plays from previous games, according to the Journal.

Terms of the deal were not revealed. Major League Baseball officials declined to immediately comment on the partnership. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Coaches’ use of iPads during games is the next logical step in analytical approach that has taken over baseball since the Oakland A’s crunched numbers to build successful teams on the cheap in the early 2000s. The concept took off after Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game” brought it to the mainstream. Now, teams are built by spreadsheets rather than on instincts about how hard a pitcher can throw a fastball or far a hitter can smash a curveball.

Managers and coaches will be issued Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pros loaded with MLB Dugout, a custom app built by MLB’s Advanced Media division with help from Apple. The game data available on the iPads will be provided by the individual teams, rather than drawing on a league-wide database, the Journal reported.

Baseball isn’t the first sport to embrace mobile technology to help it develop and adjust strategy. In 2013, the Microsoft struck a deal reportedly worth $400 million deal to have its Surface tablets exclusively on team sidelines for reviewing plays. But that arrangement got off to a rocky start for Microsoft, as TV commentators kept referring to them as “iPads.”

Apple is hoping the deal will be a big hit for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The company launched the device in November to attract business users and other buyers to its tablet line, which has been struggling for the past couple of years. However, iPad unit sales dropped 25 percent in the first quarter, Apple reported in January.

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