A new virtual reality baseball tool is giving an edge to hitters of all ages. The creators are from Kansas City and they’re confident their product will soon be in the hands of several Major League teams throughout the country.
“The big leaguers love it,” said Adam Pummill, senior vice president of Eon Sports VR.
Touted as the “world's first interactive baseball hitting simulator,” Project OPS features a new virtual reality app called ‘Strike-Zone Awareness with Jason Giambi,’ the former All-Star acting as each consumer’s personal hitting coach.
"Nothing will ever substitute hard work - training - in sports. But what we decided and thought from the feedback from the big leaguers was, 'How do we improve strike zone awareness and plate discipline?' Which is the same feedback we always got from them ... that's what makes a good hitter,” said Pummill.
The theory is that with the limitless repetition of facing customized pitches, hitters can more quickly develop better strike zone awareness and discipline.
"It gives them live looks, and that's a big thing, especially in the winter time, in the cold season when we can't get outside and see live pitchers,” said Bob Zimmerman.
Zimmerman is a former pro baseball player and current trainer at Premiere Baseball KC. He says his high school players have improved greatly since using the virtual reality simulator.
“You can see kids starting to recognize pitches, and I think that's a big thing too,” he said.
Eon Sports VR already had football products out before their baseball version was released fall of 2015. However, three Major League Baseball teams started using a larger, higher-end version of Project OPS this spring.
In the video below you can see Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki trying out the new simulator at CES this past January.
The best part about the virtual reality tool for major leaguers is that hitters can preview their next opposing pitcher. From their windup, pitch repertoire or velocity, it can all be realistically simulated.
"So you will see some professionals who are sitting on airplanes with these on, watching pitches come in, just trying to get repetitions versus the pitcher they may face in the upcoming series,” said Pummill.
Pummill says there will be an announcement very soon revealing the names of the MLB clubs currently using the virtual reality simulator.
What do I need to try it for myself?
- Sidekiq VR headset
- ‘Strike-Zone Awareness with Jason Giambi’ app (comes with purchase of headset) at EonSportsVr.com
Josh Helmuth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org