Baseball has always been a sport with an immense amount of statistics. Thanks to some advanced technology, we’re about to see a whole lot more.
During the Cardinals vs. Nationals game on Tuesday, Major League Baseball debuted Statcast, a hi-tech system that uses radar equipment and HD optical cameras to measure every single play during a baseball game.
— #Statcast (@statcast) April 21, 2015
Want to know the exit velocity of another Nelson Cruz home run? How about the degree of spin on that Felix Hernandez sinker? Or perhaps the acceleration of an outfielder who just made a fantastic diving catch?
All this information is now quantifiable thanks to optical cameras and radar tracking set up in all 30 MLB stadiums. Teams are already using the data, but now it will now be shared with fans on TV broadcasts starting with Tuesday’s game on MLB Network.
MLB said that the technology, which costs tens of millions and was built specifically for the league, will be used on more broadcasts later this season, including those televised by FOX, ESPN, Turner, and local channels.
— #Statcast (@statcast) April 21, 2015
MLB started testing Statcast, which is powered by Amazon Web Services, last year during the All Star Game and playoffs. You can check out numerous examples here.
Check out how Statcast measures how hard Cruz’s game-winning single on Sunday was hit:
The roots of MLB’s in-game tracking technology goes back a decade, when the league started measuring the location of each pitch and then packaged that information for its digital platforms. Today, you’ll see strike zone boxes on TV broadcasts with pitch location, helping fans see exactly where a pitch ended up.
The MLB isn’t the only league looking to track movement. You can expect to see something similar with the NFL soon, as the league continues working on its Next Gen Stats initiative, which will surface innovative new statistics for fans and media.
Here are the new stats the MLB will be tracking (via MLB):
Release: Measures the time from pitcher’s first movement out of the stretch to the release point of the pitch.
Extension: Measures the distance of the release point of the pitch from the front edge of the pitching rubber.
Velocity: Measures the peak velocity of a pitch at any point from its release to the front edge of home plate.
Perceived velocity: Velocity of the pitch at the release point normalized to the average release point for MLB pitchers. For example, a 90-mph pitch at a 54-inch release point will seem faster to the batter than a pitch of the same velocity thrown from a 56-inch release point.
Spin rate: Measures the spin rate of the ball at the point of the release from the pitcher’s hand.
Exit velocity: Velocity of the ball off the bat on batted balls.
Launch angle: The vertical angle at which the ball leaves the bat on a batted ball.
Vector: Classifies the horizontal launch direction of the batted ball into five equal zones of 18 degrees each.
Hang time: Measures the time from bat contact to the ball either hitting the ground/wall or contact by a fielder.
Hit distance: Calculates the distance on the ground of the actual landing point of any ball hit into play, ground/wall or contact with fielder, regardless of outcome.
Projected HR distance: Calculates the distance of projected landing point at ground level on over-the-fence home runs.
Lead distance: Measures the distance between the base and the runner’s center of mass at the time the pitcher goes into his windup on a pitch or pickoff attempt.
Secondary lead: Measures the distance between the base and the runner’s center of mass when the ball is released by the pitcher on a pitch or pickoff attempt.
First step: Measures the time elapsed from time of bat-on-ball contact to the runner’s first movement toward next base.
Stealing first step: Measures the time elapsed from the pitcher’s first movement in the stretch to the runner’s first movement toward the next base on a steal attempt.
Acceleration: Measures the time elapsed from time of bat-on-ball contact to the runner’s max speed at any point ball is in play.
Max speed: Measures the maximum speed at any point for all players while the ball is in play.
Dig speed: Measures the time from bat-on-ball contact to the point where the batter-as-runner reaches first base on an infield ground ball.
Extra bases: Measures the time of bat-on-ball contact to the point the runner advances an “extra” base (first to third or home, or second to home) on all hits (excluding over-the-fence home runs).
Home run trot: Measures the time elapsed from time of bat-on-ball contact to the point where the batter-as-runner reaches home plate on home runs.
First step: Measure the time elapsed from time of bat-on-ball contact to the fielder’s first movement toward the ball.
First step efficiency: Measures the angle of deviation from a straight line to the ending point of a batted ball trajectory vs. the actual initial path taken toward the ball.
Max speed: Measures the maximum speed at any point while tracking any ball hit into play.
Acceleration (outfield): Measures the time elapsed from time of bat-on-ball contact to max speed at any point while pursuing any ball hit into the outfield.
Total distance: The total distance covered from batted ball contact to fielding the ball.
Arm strength: Measures the maximum velocity of any throw made by any fielder.
Exchange: Measures the time from the point a fielder receives the ball to releasing a throw.
Pop time: Measures the time elapsed from a pitch reaching catcher’s glove, to throw, to receipt of the ball by fielder at the intended base on all pickoff throws and steal attempts.
Pivot: Measures the time elapsed between receipt of the ball and release of throw on double-play attempts.
Route efficiency (outfield): Divide the distance covered by the fielder by a straight-line distance between the player’s position at batted ball contact and where the ball was fielded.