Apple Inks MLB Deal To Supply Team Dugouts With 12.9-inch iPad Pros

One of the biggest signings in Major League Baseball this year isn't a pitcher with a wicked fast ball or a slugger who specializes in smashing the ball over the fence, but Apple and it's 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablet. Taking a page from Microsoft with its NFL deal, Apple inked a multi-year agreement to supply every MLB team with iPad Pro tablets to help coaches and statisticians evaluate performance data in real-time.

Number crunching is a big deal in sports these days. As portrayed in the 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and subsequent 2011 biographical sports drama Moneyball, former baseball player and current front office executive Billy Beane helped popularize the practice of crunching numbers and stats analysis to make player personnel decision.

iPad Pro

"I started in this game 25 years ago and the single biggest change has been the emergence and predominance of analytics," said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. "It affects the way we judge players, make decisions on the field and the way fans consume the game."

Using the iPad Pro, teams can view performance stats of both current and past seasons and use that information to make strategic decisions on the field. Such a thing can be helpful in determining where a player is most likely to hit the ball, or which pitcher(s) a particular batter struggles against, to name just two possible scenarios.

Apple's senior VP of marketing, Phil Schiller, says this isn't simply a move of "replacing binders with tablets," but "actually helping them do things that weren't possible before." One example is viewing video of pitchers and hitters from prior games, something that requires going back to the locker room. With the iPad Pro, players can look at footage right from within the dugout.

This is also a major marketing move for Apple. Just as there's plenty of attention paid to the Surface Pro being the official tablet of the NFL, it's a safe bet there will be lots of references to the iPad Pro during MLB games.