Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has met so many of his own players’ sports psychologists, personal trainers and private baseball hitting coaches that he could see that major league baseball was headed in this direction.
And on Monday, Dipoto made it official — his team was joining the current analytics landscape for peak player performance that most other sports are already utilizing.
Dipoto hired Dr. Lorena Martin as the organization’s inaugural director of high performance, overseeing the club’s medical, strength and conditioning, mental skills and nutrition departments. She begins in that role Wednesday.
Martin spent the past year as the Los Angeles Lakers’ director of sports performance analytics, but has also worked with other professional athletes in football, soccer, tennis and golf.
“She checks off every box we were going to hit,” Dipoto said. “It is very rare to hire one person with so many levels of expertise.”
Dipoto claimed that major league baseball has lagged behind other professional sports leagues in using advanced data to help with injury prevention and maximizing player performance.
“Baseball is steeped in long-term tradition,” Dipoto said. “It has done things a certain way, from the way we throw the ball, to the way we prepare, to the way we take batting practice. That is historically how we’ve been set up.”
A year ago, the Toronto Blue Jays were the first major league baseball organization to restructure its physical and mental training programs similarly to what other professional leagues such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Soccer have been doing.
Dipoto said he not only has studied what the Blue Jays have done, but he noted the Mariners have taken bigger steps in how they’ve reorganized their programs.
“It won’t be very long when the rest of the league has followed suit,” Dipoto said.
Martin has an extraordinary background, starting with her own playing career as a professional tennis player.
She has earned three post-doctorates in epidemiology, biostatistics and geographical information systems (GIS) spatial analysis from UC San Diego, and has written two books on the science of analyzing athletes’ performance.
Martin called Dipoto “a visionary” for his willingness to get baseball going on the same model as other sports organizations.
“I can be an agent of change,” Martin said.