Two (unexpected) dadcraft Ideas in The MVP Machine

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

When something you enjoy for its own sake hands you dadcraft wisdom…yes. Relish that.

I experienced this recently while reading Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik’s The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players. Baseball has long been the pro sport I enjoy most and follow most closely, and I’ve been intrigued by the way advanced statistics and new technology and cutting-edge training methods have impacted the game in recent years. The MVP Machine tells the story of some of these changes, and I thoroughly enjoyed this deep dive into the greatest of sports.

I read The MVP Machine as a baseball fan, and I didn’t anticipate that it would have much application to life outside of my MLB fanhood. I was a bit surprised, then, when I bumped into a couple of ideas from Lindbergh and Swachik that contain dadcraft wisdom.

Don’t worry: we’re not talking about building better kids data and super slo-mo cameras. Instead, we’re talking about a couple of ideas that you’ve encountered before at dadcraft. 

First, Lindbergh and Sawchik remind us of the importance of a growth mindset. They write:

These new peaks in performance aren’t just the product of better technology. They’re a manifestation of a new philosophy of human potential. Increasingly, teams and players are adopting a growth mindset that rejects long-held beliefs about innate physical talent.

How often have you heard a pro sport prospect defined in terms of their “floor” (that is, the lowest level they’re expected to develop to) and their “ceiling” (that is, the highest level they’re expected to develop to)? It happens frequently, and—even for carefully scouted and tested and analyzed athletes—it’s not really valid (think Jose Altuve or the book’s favorite example, Trevor Bauer). “Innate physical talent” isn’t as limiting as previously thought, and learning and practicing and playing with a growth mindset taps previously unidentified potential. Lindbergh and Sawchik again:

…if experienced players in a centuries-old sport can be better than they thought, it suggests something exciting. Maybe we all have hidden talent. And maybe everyone can be better at whatever work they do.

How cool is that? 

While there are still limits for all of us in terms of peak performance, those limits are likely higher than we think they are. And key to getting close to such limits is deciding to pursue growth and improvement. I find that an incredibly empowering, encouraging tool to have in the bag as a dadcraftsman. We may not be the person to teach our kids all that they need to learn to continue to grow in some aspect of life, but we can unlock the potential of such teaching and practice by telling our kids that improvement is possible. 

And—even better than telling our kids about it—we can encourage a growth mindset in our kids by demonstrating a growth mindset and good practices. That’s the second dadcraft idea I was reminded of in The MVP Machine: our kids are watching us and learning from us as they do so.

The authors note an observation by Kyle Boddy, one of the leaders in creative applications of technology with baseball skill development. 

Boddy’s theory on why the children of major leaguers succeed at such a high rate [such as recent phenoms like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.] is not so much genetics—which doesn’t hurt—but because they’ve emulated more effective throwing and movement patterns.

It makes me wonder: what are the more effective habits and skills and traits my kids see in me? What about me are they unconsciously mimicking and benefiting from? And, on the flip side, what do they see in me that isn’t helping them live good and true lives?

Things to ponder about fatherhood…from a book about baseball. 


The MVP Machine also has a little shout out for (the baseball variant of) grit. We love grit too.

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Photo from Ben Lindbergh’s Twitter feed.