Suk-Min Yoon Makes First Spring Training Appearance and Supercomputers

Former South Korean ace Suk-Min Yoon made his first Spring Training game appearance on Saturday.  He pitched only an inning of relief, allowing a single, no runs, no walks and recorded no strikeouts.  None of the four batters who faced Yoon have significant major league experience.

Here is the video of Yoon’s first inning of work.  My impression is that his fastball is straight and very hittable, particularly if it’s out over the plate.  However, his command looked at least major league average, and he did a good job of mixing his pitches and moving his pitches around the strike zone.  He definitely looks like a major league pitcher, so long as he can keep major league hitters from teeing off on his fastball.

In a completely unrelated note, a major league team has reportedly spent more than $500,000 to purchase a Cray supercomputer.  The team hasn’t been named, but the report is that it wants the supercomputer so it can crunch numbers instantaneiously to provide real-time data in games that can help the manager make decision.

If the report is accurate, it sounds a bit like overkill to me.  I would think that you could use less expensive computer systems to determine prior to the start of each series all the batter-pitcher match-ups, how players play day vs. night, where to position fielders for each hitter, what hitters do with each different pitch type and in different locations, and any other information that is truly useful.

A supercomputer would allow you to run millions or billions of different scenarios, but I’m not sure how useful or predictive most of this data would be.  For example, even batter-pitcher past performance isn’t all that predictive unless the batter and pitcher have faced each other a certain number of times.

However, a supercomputer might be able to tell you what types of pitchers do well against a certain hitter or vice versa in lieu of actual experience between a specific batter and pitcher.  However, the specific hitter or pitcher you are seeking to analyze would have to be a veteran with significant major experience, because I very much doubt that minor league games are recorded with the same precision and detail that major league games now are recorded.  Obviously, the more detail with which game actions are recorded, the more a supercomputer might be able to help you identify trends that are not immediately apparent.

There is also a question whether managers, coaches and players will even consider all the information a supercomputer would generate.  For example, I very much doubt that every veteran defender looks and memorizes batted ball charts for each opposing hitter before the start of each series.  Some may look at these charts for hitters they aren’t familiar with, but prefer to make their own decisions about where to position themselves against hitters they believe they know well.

I suspect that the same is true for pitchers and catchers deciding what to throw and where to pitch hitters, particularly as the game progresses and pitcher/catcher have developed a feeling about what will work against a specific hitter during specific at-bat based on what the hitter did during previous at-bats in that game or earlier in the series.

At any rate, the supercomputer purchase is an interesting development, and if it appears to give that team a boost in performance, you can expect other teams to jump on the bandwagon and purchase supercomputers of their own in the near future.

Explore posts in the same categories: Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees

One Comment on “Suk-Min Yoon Makes First Spring Training Appearance and Supercomputers”

  1. Burly Says:

    Announced today that Yoon will start the season at AAA. In his second Spring appearance, he pitched two innings and gave up a run on a solo home run to Jayson Nix. Delays in getting his visa prevented him from more opportunities to pitch this Spring.

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