Giants' Gabe Kapler is using a video game to hone his managerial skills

With the Major League Baseball season on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen countless videos of players illustrating how they’re staying sharp physically.

But what about the managers? What can they possibly do to keep their mind in the game and simulate the daily responsibilities of overseeing a major-league squad?

According to new San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, the solution is simple: Break out the video games.

Gabe Kapler turns to ‘MLB The Show’

During a recent appearance on KNBR 680 in San Francisco, Kapler revealed he’s been using "MLB The Show 20" as a tool to stay sharp and hone his managerial instincts.

The suggestion was originally made by Giants hitting coach Justin Viele. Kapler and several other Giants coaches gave it a shot. Now they’re playing several games a day.

“It’s just kind of a cool way to stay connected,” Kapler revealed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman. “People are using it as an advance tool to stay familiar with the league. I’ve been playing several games a day.”

While most of the coaches are using the game to evaluate opposing players and their tendencies, Kapler is utilizing the game’s “quick manage” mode to make strategic in-game decisions. The game offers a realistic simulation of scenarios that big-league managers face on a daily basis. That includes managing the bullpen.

The only thing missing is the postgame press conference.

Scouting tool

Because of the exhaustive work Sony Interactive Entertainment puts into producing "MLB The Show" and giving it the most authentic feel possible, Kapler believes it can be a reliable tool for scouting opposing players.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Part of the reason we have interest in using it as a tool is we’re really confident in the way they evaluate and rank players,” Kapler said. “They’ve done really deep statistical dives and really thoughtful ones.”

As for the process Sony uses to grade players:

Chris Gill, the game-play director, said his staff grades players based on their stats over three prior years and use the same advanced metrics that fans and the media have become accustomed to studying online

Besides mathematical stats, they include reaction time, fielding ability, arm strength, break on pitches, exit velocity, hot and cold zones for pitchers and hitters, and the first step and reaction time of fielders.

Though it’s not an exact science, it’s still a thorough process.

Traditional scouting still in place

Don’t worry, Giants fans. The coaching staff hasn’t turned into a group of videogamers and certainly isn’t relying solely on the game to prepare for baseball’s return.

Kapler says his coaches are still analyzing traditional video and scouting reports. When the real games return, the video games will be shelved. It’s just a placeholder — unique as it might be — to help break up the monotony of working from home when coaches are use to being on the go.

Says Kapler: “I think it’s a fun, easy way, with as much time as we have inside right now, to look at every player in the National League.”

Giants manager Gabe Kapler is using a video game to sharpen his skills.. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Giants manager Gabe Kapler is using a video game to sharpen his skills.. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

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