The 2017 Major League Baseball season is officially underway with WHOOP on the field at ballparks across the country (Featured Image: Chris Coghlan, now with Toronto).
Last month, WHOOP became the first continuous biometric monitor granted approval by MLB for use in games. Per ESPN’s Darren Rovell, WHOOP “is the first of its kind approved by any of the major American sports leagues to be worn during competition.”
In 2016, WHOOP and MLB conducted the largest performance study in pro sports history involving 230 players from 28 different minor league teams. The athletes wore WHOOP Straps throughout the season, with the exception of when they took the field for games.
Highlights from the study included the following:
- A deeper understanding of the effects of travel–on average, players slept roughly 40 minutes less per night following travel.
- Pitchers were found to be the most cardiovascularly fit and have the highest heart rate variability (HRV) of any position, followed by outfielders.
- One player quit drinking alcohol while using WHOOP, which led to a decrease in his resting heart rate and an increase in his HRV.
- Participants in the study who suffered injuries posted declining average Recoveries leading up to the time of injury.
- A correlation was found between higher WHOOP Recovery and increased average fastball velocity for pitchers, as well as the speed of the ball off the bat for hitters.
A number of MLB teams and players have already turned to WHOOP in an effort to get a leg up on the competition this year:
— Chase d’Arnaud (@chasedarnaud) March 18, 2017
A World Series champion with the Chicago Cubs last season, Chris Coghlan (pictured up top with Philadelphia in spring training) has been a WHOOP user for quite some time and is pleased he’ll now be able to wear it on the field. Coghlan recently told The Observer “There isn’t anything that offers everything that they do in a wearable technology. It’s a great barometer to gauge how my body feels. It’s helped hold me accountable. … Major League Baseball does a good job evolving and learning. It’s great for the game.”
Last month, Padres infielder Cory Spangenberg took some time out of his busy spring-training schedule to speak with WHOOP. Spangenberg explained how WHOOP has helped him get back into playing shape after missing most of 2016 with a quad injury:
“The two things I like best are definitely the sleep detection and the daily strain. There are some days that I was supposed to lift and I decided not to do it that day because my recovery wasn’t so high. Coming off the injury, I want to be positive that I’m ready to do each exercise and that my body is ready to take on that strain. When you’re playing every single day, some days it’s easy to get caught up in it and think you feel alright, but the strain tells you how your body is really feeling. That’s the cool thing about it.”
The physiological data and analysis WHOOP provides may well be the equivalent of “Moneyball 2.0” for major league teams and players. Among other things, it can help them determine when guys need rest, in turn keeping players healthier and extending their careers.
And who knows, come next fall, WHOOP could even be playing a key role in critical managerial decisions in the postseason.