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AI pitching machine is going to Major League Baseball

The LG Twins have won the Korean Series for the first time in 29 years following the No. 1 spot in the regular season of the 2023 Korean Baseball KBO League.

NC Dinos finished the pennant race in fourth place, but won six consecutive postseason games and competed fiercely with KT Wiz until the last minute for the last place in the Korean Series.

There is something in common between the two clubs. He tried to win the championship or the championship based on his strong attack. And throughout the regular season, he conducted batting training with an AI pitching machine produced in Korea.

The AI pitching machine reproduces the course and pitch type that the batter wants, as well as the pitches of major pitchers raging in the league, close to the real world. In addition, both LG and NC, which incorporated AI pitching machines into batting training, are expected to perform well in the league, creating a new wind in the pitching machine market led by Japanese and American companies.

The AI pitching machine is a machine developed in 2019 with pure domestic technology, and it is the only pitching machine that has introduced big data-based artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The AI pitching machine provides a total of six basic pitches from simple pitches provided by existing machines, such as fastballs, curves, and sliders, to changeups, sinkers, and cutters. On top of that, any pitch type that a pitcher can throw, such as a fork ball and a knuckle ball, can be implemented as desired by the user.

The speed of the ball provides a fast ball from 90km to 170km per hour based on a fastball, and other types of balls can be adjusted as much as users want.

It also has control that allows users to accurately insert the ball into the course they want. Divide the strike zone into ninth place and throw the ball according to the type of pitch and course the batter wants. It is also possible to set up a random course, allowing batting training that reminds you of live pitching. Release points (position as soon as the pitcher throws the ball) and left and right-hand choices can also be adjusted.

The AI pitching machine analyzes the pitching mechanisms of famous pitchers at home and abroad and implements them similar to actual pitching, from the pitches of the pitchers to their pitches, trajectories, and ball speeds. The pitching machine, which learned the actual pitching data of "Iryu" Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels), can also throw "Ohtani-style" balls.

Oh Sung, CEO of Lozney Sports, who developed the AI pitching machine, said, "We input the data of pitchers that are released after the game and learn them in the pitching machine. We can implement all the pitching styles of MLB players such as Ryu Hyun-jin, Clayton Kershaw (LA Dodgers), Shohei Ohtani, and KBO-representative pitchers such as Kim Kwang-hyun (SSG)."

The AI pitching machine has pitcher data from five professional baseball leagues, including Korea (KBO), the United States (MLB), Japan (NPB), Taiwan (CFBL), and Australia (ABL). Currently, 89 pitchers from the KBO. About 100 MLB pitchers have data input.

The training effect of AI pitching machines is also recognized in the field. Baseball player A, who runs a baseball academy, evaluated the AI pitching machine as "the best pitching machine I have experienced in my 30-year baseball career."

"The speed and dependence of the ball are constant, so you can feel like a real game from the perspective of the batter," A said. "Some players have improved their hitting as they set up pitches in their respective cold zones (weak pitching courses when hitting) and conduct customized training."

A also said, "Even if you don't hit the ball yourself, just learning the ball with your eyes helps improve your performance," adding, "Some players said it was effective to see pitchers' pitches (with AI pitching machines) in advance after the game."

Currently, there are two professional baseball teams in Korea that have introduced AI pitching machines to their training, the LG Twins and the NC Dinos.

Both clubs targeted the opponent's mound with strong batters in the regular season. Their attack power can also be confirmed in the regular season team index.

LG boasted the league's strongest dynamite firepower, ranking first in the regular season team batting average (.279) and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, .755) and score (767 points).

In the Korean Series, which won the championship over KT Wiz, he also recorded a team batting average of .331, overwhelming KT Wiz (.254) in batting by about 8 percent. He also hit eight home runs in five games.

NC also ranked third in the team's batting average (.270), OPS (.732) and score (679 points) in the regular season, ranking in the top of the team's offensive index.

NC's bat also shone in the postseason. In particular, in three semi-playoff games that were swept, he recorded a team batting average of .283.He put his opponent SSG Landers to rest with the power of the batting line.

As a result, NC's internal evaluation that the AI pitching machine has made a remarkable contribution to improving the players' batting skills is drawing attention.

NC Seo Ho-cheol, who decided to advance to the playoffs by sweeping the team's most-ever six RBIs, including a grand slam, in the wild-card game against the Doosan Bears, said, "The AI pitching machine has helped us a lot in improving our performance this season."

In an interview with CBS No Cut News, Seo said, "The pitcher's throwing on the LED part of the pitching machine also helped me set the timing of the batting," adding, "Thanks to customized training with an AI pitching machine that adjusts pitch type, course setting, and speed in various ways, it helped a lot in setting the heating zone."

NC batting coach Song Ji-man also ruled in favor of the AI pitching machine, saying, "It was helpful in training with players because it could be used in a variety of ways such as restraints and pitches than in the existing driving machine."

Coach Song said, "The big advantage is that you can continue to see the ball that hits the opponent's pitcher's ball speed by using the pitching machine even during the game," adding, "Not only players included in the lineup, but also pinch-hitters or players who enter the batter's box in the second half were helped to maintain their sense of the game."

The final goal of the AI pitching machine, which has been recognized for its technical skills and training effects in Korea, is to advance to the United States, which occupies the largest share of the global baseball market.

As the first gateway to entering the U.S., the AI pitching machine will be invited to the Major League Winter Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, in December to present a showcase in front of major league officials. The Major League Winter Meeting is a gathering of the heads of 30 major league clubs, and AI pitching machine maker Rozne Potts is one of the 20 companies invited to this winter meeting.

"We believe that the U.S. accounts for more than 80% of the global pitching machine market," CEO Oh said. "In January next year, a fair will also be held in Florida where about 7,000 American amateur coaches will gather, and we plan to introduce AI pitching machines there."

"I hope that the globalization of the AI pitching machine will further improve the batting skills of batters, helping not only domestic baseball but also global baseball development," he said.
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Sunday, November 26, 2023

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