Q&A W/ CHIP DILL

Inside Pitch:  Can you briefly tell us what FastChart is all about? 

Chip Dill:  FastChart is a digital charting app that allows coaches to chart games, scrimmages, bull pens and scout opponents on an iPad.  We designed it exclusively for coaches to make collecting player and game data more efficient.

IP:  What gave you the idea to design FastChart?

CD:  After years of manually charting pitches, sprays, and everything that coaches like to track, it occurred to me that there was an easier way to do that.  There was no product on the market that was created exclusively for coaches to collect, analyze and present the player and game data that they wanted.  I really designed it for my personal use, but when other coaches began to see it and telling me that this was what they’d been looking for, I realized that we had a marketable product.

IP:  How is FastChart different than, let’s say, a score keeping app?

CD:  FastChart actually doesn’t keep score; there are some very good products on the market already for that purpose.  FastChart collects data that coaches tell us they want and need beyond what you can extract from a box score.  The app is designed to not only collect this data, but analyzes it and makes the data immediately available for coaches to use before, during and after the game.

IP:  You talk about the data that coaches want the most.  Can you give me some examples of what that means?

CD:  Sure.  We collect nearly 200 metrics on player performance, but we also organize and present  the data into key performance areas so that a coach can better correlate how the data translates into player skills.  For hitters the key areas are traditional overall batting stats, as well as a ball-in-play breakdown, a skills section, BB/HBP/Error section, bat control and first pitch metrics.  For pitchers, traditional overall pitching stats, as well as efficiency metrics, ball in play data, pitch type breakdowns, velocities by pitch type, pitch tendencies, and a pitch map section.

Coaches are looking for not only raw data, but help in interpreting that data to be put to use to make their players and game management preparation better.  So as an example, FastChart can show you what type of pitch a pitcher is likely to throw your hitter at any point in the count.  We automatically calculate the most likely and second most likely pitch he will throw based on the cumulative pitches that a coach has charted.  In the Pitch Map section, you can also see every pitch thrown and breakdown your analysis by pitch type, count, location and velocity.  The Pitch Map section also has that hitter’s cumulative spray chart displayed to show where the ball was put in play.

IP:  That’s a lot of information being collected.  With all of the data available to today’s coaches, do you think that at some point it may be too much to digest?

CD:  Well, it may get to that point sometime in the future.  But my opinion is that we’re not close to that point just yet.  I think the key going forward is to help coaches interpret the data.  Throwing raw numbers at coaches, however meaningful in the baseball world they may be doesn’t always help.  What we try to do and will be doing more of with FastChart is to help to aggregate the data and offer better insights into how to use it in practical terms.  That is a development focus for us in 2018.

IP:  How are your customers using FastChart?  Is it a dugout tool or are players and coaches charting from the stands?

CD: It depends on the level of the game.  In college ball, we see it being used both in the dugout and used on the road as a scouting tool.  In the dugout, a pitching coach may use it to chart pitch sequences and outcomes, and the coach setting the defense will be using the spray charts.  And of course a player will be behind the plate charting location and velocity.

At the high school and travel ball levels, sometimes we see a student manager doing all of the charting from the dugout.  Coaches then refer to him or her for any player or game information they may need.  And I’m sure coaches are finding ways to use it that we never envisioned!

IP:  How has the coaching community responded to the app?

CD:  The response of coaches who’ve used it is tremendous.  We released the original version in 2016, and V2  January of this year.  We’re proud to say that we won Best of Show at this year’s ABCA convention in Anaheim by unanimous vote.  To date we have nearly 500 users from all levels of the game.  I think it’s fair to say that we’ve proven the concept of FastChart being a viable coaching tool, and we’re very excited about the future.

IP:  In closing, what would you like our readers to know most about FastChart?

CD:   That we’re committed to helping coaches save time and money, and to become more efficient in how they collect and manage player and game data.  We survey our customers annually for ways to improve our product, and that we listen to each and every suggestion.  Feedback from our users is critical to our future development.

Chip Dill, the Founder of FastChart Baseball, a digital charting, game management and scouting tool.  Chip played his collegiate baseball at the University of Arizona and Cerritos College, and was most recently the pitching coach at the University of Tennessee.