Apple's iPad goes to bat for Major League Baseball

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be in Major League dugouts this season for coaches who need to sift through players' performance data.

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Steven Musil
2 min read

Apple's iPad Pro will be helping Major League Baseball coaches make game-time strategy decisions this season.

The iPad is getting called up to the big leagues.

Apple's tablet will be in every Major League Baseball dugout this year as part of a multiyear deal between the tech titan and the league, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro devices will be on hand for coaches looking to analyze players' performance stats from current and previous seasons, to weigh pitcher-versus- hitter matchups and to 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.

The 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 the 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 on the field to help it develop and adjust in-game tactics. In 2013, Microsoft struck a deal reportedly worth $400 million to have its Surface tablets exclusively on team sidelines for reviewing plays. That arrangement hasn't always worked out in Microsoft's favor: TV commentators have been known to refer to its tablets 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.