Stay on target
Major League Baseball has added wearable biometric monitors to its starting lineup.
Designed for athletes, the Whoop Strap 2.0 is the first wrist-worn device approved by the MLB for use during games.
The organization last year sanctioned the Motus Baseball Sleeve and Zephyr Bioharness heart and breathing monitor, but still, prohibits popular consumer gadgets like Jawbone and Fitbit on the diamond.
Lightweight and waterproof, the Whoop Strap automatically measures functions like heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), ambient temperature, and motion. It also analyzes strain, sleep, and recovery, providing recommendations to enhance performance and avoid overtraining.
The MLB remains tight-lipped about the wearable’s use on the field. But Whoop founder and CEO Will Ahmed has a few suggestions.
“One obvious possibility is the manner in which pitchers are deployed,” he wrote in a blog post. “Traditionally, managers tend to remove starting pitchers when their pitch counts get too high. But, what if there’s a better way to gauge whether or not a pitcher can continue to be effective?”
More than 200 minor league players last year donned Whoop Straps for a collaborative performance study with MLB; findings revealed the effect of travel, correlations between recovery and in-game performance, and injuries.
“It also demonstrated that players wanted to voluntarily wear Whoop to better understand their bodies,” Ahmed said.
And now they can.
As reported by ESPN, the device is meant to be worn 24 hours a day, collecting data to help a player and team monitor the current state of an athlete’s body heading into a match.
Previously, the use of biometric monitors has given the MLB pause: Wearables raise various privacy concerns among users. The league last year agreed to specific terms, including the promise that all gathered data can only be used internally; the vendor has no rights to that information.
“We aim to facilitate a process that allows the teams and players to come together on mutual goals related to health and performance,” an MLB spokesman told Geek. “Players can choose to wear the technology voluntarily,” and any data collected can be accessed only after a game—not during it.
A consumer model of the Whoop Strap 2.0 went on sale in November for $500. Major League Baseball, however, plunks down $1,200 per athlete per year—including access to analytics, ESPN said.
“We believe that athletes and competitors alike deserve data to help them better understand their bodies and ultimately perform at a higher level,” Ahmed wrote. “This data … will make for healthier athletes, longer careers. I know teams, athletes, and fans alike can benefit from that.”