Why do professional baseball players learn from “amateurs”? Who are these “proouts” who are suddenly attracting so much attention?
Advise and mentor the team and players 2 Two “proouts” who give advice and guidance to baseball teams and players
With the WBC and the pennant race just around the corner, the baseball scene is abuzz with excitement both in Japan and overseas. In the world of baseball, where talented professional players are competing against each other in a fierce competition, coaches and trainers with no professional experience are now attracting attention.
Although some may question the situation of coaching professionals without professional experience, these “pro utsu (professional amateurs)” are now beginning to make their presence felt in the world of professional baseball. How did they become pro scouts and what are their activities? We interviewed two of the scouts.
The two people interviewed this time are rani (@n_cing10) and Tairiku Midorikawa (@mid9181). rani studied the play of infielders and catchers and posted his findings on social networking sites and online salons, which caught the attention of professional baseball players and coaches. He has been giving advice to players and coaches.
On the other hand, Tairiku Midorikawa is a catcher coach who mainly works with elementary and junior high school students, and has worked with Kota Senga during his time at SoftBank, and has also provided technical guidance to Takuya Kai. We asked these two what kind of guidance and advice they give to professional players.
–What kind of relationship do you have with professional players?
RANI. I teach catchers at an online salon that I used to participate in as an operator, and I also practice face-to-face with several others. I also work with Ryosuke Morioka, the Yakult infield defense and base running coach, and give advice mainly on infield defense and base running.
Tairiku Midorikawa (Midorikawa): I gave framing instruction to Kai and several other catchers during Softbank’s Kai’s joint voluntary training session. As for Kai, he was introduced to me by pitcher Senga. And my SNS I was introduced to Kai by Senga, a pitcher, and he started watching my SNS activities, became interested in framing, and decided to give it a try.
–Isn’t it difficult to instruct a professional catcher?
Midorikawa: Kai was very interested in it. There were other players in the voluntary training, so I started with, “Do you know what framing is?” I started with “Do you know framing? They knew the word “framing,” but when I asked them to explain what it was, they said they didn’t understand it.
Then I said, “The data shows that catching technique determines the game. The numbers show how many runs a catcher has prevented in a year by catching and how many runs have been taken away, so I think we should work on it.
RANI What is framing?” If you understand “What is framing?”, you will naturally understand what the purpose is and what kind of practice is necessary. The first step is to understand this. After that, you can take advantage of the SNS and practice in the U.S., and sometimes ask questions to MLB coaches. We also use the social networking environment to create practice menus while referring to American practices and asking questions to MLB coaches.
–I heard that you two also give advice to the Yakult catchers.
Midorikawa rani Mr. Midorikawa 2 I suggested a new catching style and practice method to the battery coach, Motohiro Shima, and he has been working on it. In order to learn framing, we have them lower the catcher’s stance, and coach Shingo Takatsu seems to appreciate it as “a stance that makes it easier to throw low.
–Is there not many professional coaches who can teach framing, which the two of you mainly teach?
Midorikawa: During Kai’s voluntary training 5 baseball team, and 8 I heard from them that they had never practiced framing in earnest. The Bay Stars seems to have adopted and practiced it, but there may be no one who can teach it professionally in other teams. That’s why I wondered if they would talk to people like us who have no professional experience.
Did the idea of a proout change touch play?
–rani heard that he also contributed to the touch play of the Yakult infielders.
rani. 2020 In the offseason of 2006, Coach Morioka joined the online salon I was in and said, “( rani I found your post on touch play helpful and would like to incorporate it into my camp. I want to incorporate it in my camp. In fact 2021 I came up with the idea, and Coach Morioka customized it to fit the field.
–What kind of play is it?
rani. One example is the touch play on a ground ball when a runner is on first base. The first baseman is poised away from the base, and the pitcher throws a check pitch to the base, touching not the hand but the body of the returning runner. If the glove grazes anywhere on the runner’s body, it may look like a follow-up touch, but it will likely result in an out on request.
This was originally an idea I came up with from scratch, and at the time MLB This was a play that was almost unheard of in the MLB at the time. Coach Morioka was able to improve and adjust such an unprecedented play to suit the team well, and in 2021, we will be able to use it for 10 times a year. In 2021, I got 10 In 2021, we had 10 touchouts per year.
–How did you feel when you got the result?
rani I thought we would get some results, but we didn’t. I thought we would get some results, but there was no precedent, so I didn’t know what the right answer would be. In the beginning, I felt like I was walking in the dark. In the beginning of the 2021 season, the first time Yakult got a checked touchout was on April 7, 2021. April 7 Yakult’s first touch out was on April 7, against Hiroshima. The first time Yakult got a check touch out was in the 8th The first time Yakult got a checked touch out was in the 8th inning against Hiroshima on April 7, when Yakult had a one-run lead. Noboru Shimizu got a check out and escaped with a one-run lead. The game ended with a one-run lead.
Immediately after the game, Mr. Morioka called me and said, “I got an out on a check! It was a very big play in today’s game. I vividly remember him telling me, “I’m glad I practiced that. At first, no one would even listen to me, and I was glad to have actually achieved a result in a professional game through trial and error.
–If it is a play with a request, it may be difficult for amateurs to adopt it.
rani Yes, that was the opinion of many, but it was not so. We have adopted the method of aiming at the torso not only for checks, but also for touch plays for stolen bases, etc. The umpires are also at a high level and immediately responded to that new form of touch. Then there were more and more cases where the umpire made an out without even having to make a request.
Even amateur umpires told me that the way they look at touch play has changed, so I think it works for amateurs as well.
–Do you still have any new ideas?
RANI. Of course. I had a lot of “stuff” like touch plays stored up, but no one would take them (laughs), so I already entrusted them all to Coach Morioka. I have about 20 ideas that I have prepared this off-season. Coach Morioka introduced a number of them. I am not sure how many of them Coach Morioka will implement. I am not sure how many of them he will implement, but he is a person who listens to 1 and understands 10. I am sure that he will make adjustments as he is a person who understands the importance of the project. I can’t give you specifics, but if Yakult makes any unusual moves, I may have a hand in it (laughs).
Aaron Judge’s personal coach is an amateur restaurant owner ⁉
–Why do you think professional players started learning from amateurs?
rani. I think what professional players want to do is to “improve their performance”. Their performance and results are now shown in numbers in all aspects.
Until now, if you did as you were “generally instructed” you would get a certain evaluation, but now it is visualized in numbers. Now, however, the numbers are visualized. I think that when this happens, there is a sense of crisis that something must be done, and there have been cases where people have sought advice from amateurs.
Of course, most of the rules of thumb of our predecessors are great and should be followed, but even so, not everything is perfect, of course, and in certain fields, I came to realize that my perception was off when I looked through the machine. Framing is a prime example.
Green River SNS has become widespread, and various practices and approaches have become known. Even professional players have become aware of interesting approaches being taken by amateur players and coaches, and I think the environment has become one in which people can contact each other to ask for a talk.
rani In the U.S., there are definitely more cases of amateurs coaching pros than in Japan. One famous example is Aaron Judge (Yankees), who hit 62 home runs last season. His personal coach is Richard Schenck, who is a restaurant owner by profession. Judge himself has publicly stated that Mr. Schenck changed his batting. An amateur instructor and a home run 62 home runs!
Other Yankees catcher Jose Trevino won the Platinum Glove Award, but Yankees catching coach Tanner Swanson has no experience as a catcher. He was a college coach, was brought over by the Twins, and has proven himself, and now teaches for the Yankees. I learned a lot from him on social media.
–Midorikawa: What was the reaction of the professional players when you actually taught them?
Midorikawa: What was surprising was that they all seemed to be enjoying themselves like youth baseball players, experiencing how to catch and hold the ball for the first time. It was very refreshing to see them enjoying the experience for the first time, as if they were returning to the days when they first started playing baseball, or rather, they seemed to be enjoying themselves up front. I never thought a professional player would react like this! I thought.
rani I have been told that my view of baseball and catching has changed. That’s how different it is from what I have been doing and being taught. Of course, since they are professionals, they will not take me seriously if I am just saying strange things without evidence. It is rewarding to be able to convince professional players and have them listen to what I have to say.
Midorikawa: I understand that very well. I am often told that my view of catchers has changed as well. Until a short while ago MLB players’ framing was “moving the mitt too much,” but when I understood that and tried it out, I found that “the mitt was moving too much,” and that “the mitt was moving too much. MLB players are amazing! and his view changed. I feel that understanding framing changes the way you look at catchers.
–Midorikawa: It seems that even professional players enjoy practicing.
Midorikawa: And, as I said, they absorb and improve a lot. I used to think that elementary school students were easier to teach, because they are like dry sponges with no habits, and they absorb a lot of things.
On the other hand, high school and college students are like a dry sponge with no habits, and they absorb a lot of things. However, professional players understand just by telling them once, and even if it is completely different from their own style, they easily absorb it and make it their own. I realized once again that the sense of professional players is amazing.
rani As for infield defense, there was no one to listen to me in the first place, and I was always asked, “Do you touch away from the base? What are you talking about? (laugh)” and that was it. Only Coach Morioka sensed that this was something that could be used, and without any preconceptions, he introduced it, made improvements, and produced solid results. I can come up with all kinds of ideas, but they are just theories on paper. But professional coaches are amazing because they can give shape to them as a team. I can say without a doubt that the Yakult is the best touch play team of the 12 teams. I can say with confidence that the Yakult is the best touch play team of the 12 teams.
–By the way, what kind of income do you make as a professional scout?
Midorikawa: To be realistic, teaching pro players is hardly any money. It’s more like I enjoy myself doing it because I love catchers and being able to be involved with professional players is not something that is common. It just happened to happen when I was studying to get to the bottom of what catcher was all about.
rani. I am not earning an income either.
-I guess you could say that I am able to do it because I love it. Thank you!
Two proouts who influence not only the individual players but also the team. This is an era in which amateurs with no professional experience are changing the way the pros play, and will give new options and hope to those who have no choice but to give up on professional players.
Part 2: “Why do professional baseball catchers learn from amateurs? The “Modern Framing Theory” by the popular “Prout” continues.
Interview and text by： Diceke Takahashi