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Video: MLBAM unveils revolutionary new player tracking system

Mar 1, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT


Welcome to the future. At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston today, MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman unveiled a new analytics system that will change the way we look at baseball and player evaluation. While PITCHf/x has provided a treasure trove of information in recent years, this new system aims to track every play on the field and accurately measure things like defense, the path of the ball, and baserunning.

“This is going to be pretty exciting,” Bowman said. “We think it’s going to change the way we argue about the game, but we don’t think it’s going to settle any debates. We hope it starts more.”

For a look at the new system, check out this game-ending catch from Braves outfielder Jason Heyward last year:

Get used to hearing the phrase “route efficiency” a lot.

Miller Park in Milwaukee, Target Field in Minnesota and Citi Field in New York will use the tracking system in 2014 and the hope is that it will be ready to roll out in all 30 ballparks by next year. Bowman said that the technology will be available “for baseball operations and some fan use for 2014,” which is pretty darn exciting.

  1. jcmeyer10 - Mar 1, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    Funny story about Pitch F/X. Played golf with the father of the creator and said that he had turned down a job with the Cubs because he didn’t want to move his family around and potentially be thrown out with the bathwater if Theo failed. Said Theo was the smartest guy in the room. Pretty interesting round. If you are in Western Mass go play at The Ranch.

    My second point is (insert RAJ joke here).

    • clydeserra - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      someone on deadspin had the exact same comment.

      • jcmeyer10 - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        I’m drunk and copy and pasted.

      • jcmeyer10 - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        Me llamo Teddy Bonkers.

  2. timasahh - Mar 1, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    The Route Efficiency statistic is definitely the most interesting to me after seeing that graphic. Very cool to see a statistic that can directly show a fielder’s ability to take a direct angle to the ball.

    It would be very interesting if this could be used to see how one of Baseball’s defensive greats went from relying on his athletic talent to relying on his positioning and experience as he grew older. It’s obvious to assume younger, faster fielders can get away with a lower REff than slower or older players, but seeing it proven with this kind of statistical evidence would still be neat to watch.

    Also, as a Philly native, I doubt this will help RAJ justify the team’s outfield to the fans.

    • clydeserra - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      I almost want to get cable so I can watch my team’s numbers.

      Of course since that team is the A’s I am not sure bud selig would know where the stadium would be.

  3. rabbi187 - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    As a baseball nerd, thank you. This is awesome.

  4. happytwinsfan - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    it looks like a really nice learning tool for outfielders. i’m glad that target field is one of the pilot stadiums and hope the twins take advantage off the one year head start they get in using it.

  5. NatsLady - Mar 1, 2014 at 6:39 PM


  6. ndrick731 - Mar 1, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    OMG Your telling me that some players are more athletic than others. And some are faster and are better fielders. Thank god they came up with this. Nobody has ever been able to judge these type of things before. Now we have a way to figure a who is the better outfielder mike trout or dom brown. Just think if they had this in the past, we would know if willie mays was a better outfielder than frank Howard. Wow this is just going change the way baseball is played. I laugh at your stat.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 1, 2014 at 8:08 PM

      Fill in the blanks, only watching the first 7 seconds of that linked video:

      batted ball speed:
      launch angle:
      Heyward reaction time:
      Heyward distance run:
      Heyward top speed

      That’s just some of the data the system gives. If you can’t come up with a good reason to have that information…

    • DJ MC - Mar 1, 2014 at 10:46 PM

      With your amazing perceptive abilities when it comes to team defense, I’m stunned the team you are obviously working in a high position for allows you to post here.

    • Cris E - Mar 3, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Great post, and yet you failed to consider the dozens (or more!) players who are not Willie Mays or Frank Howard.

      OMG, can you spot the difference between athletic & clueless vs meh & smart? How big a difference is that? When watching on TV and they don’t provide camera isolation or wide angles, how exactly do you tell how well a guy played a ball? What about the three games each year (or 150) you miss?

      I’m laughing too, but not at the same things.

  7. savior72 - Mar 1, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    MLB for Dummies is what this is for.

    • clydeserra - Mar 1, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      please explain.

  8. moogro - Mar 2, 2014 at 2:34 AM

    Defense is the most exciting thing about baseball. It’s really weird to me when they sprinkle in home runs with the defense plays during the most exciting play countdowns. I feel like that a lot of that home run stuff is for morons. Now that there will be numbers to go along with defensive prowess, this opens up a whole new world for baseball. In the future, a Trout MVP will be normative (as long as the exciting catches had the efficient routes). Very exciting stuff.

  9. djcarozza - Mar 2, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Reblogged this on Bucco Talk.

  10. kellytoole878 - Mar 2, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Start working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do…….


  11. jya87 - Mar 3, 2014 at 4:43 AM

    Question: who would want to see this information in live broadcast replays? I’m pretty sure that’s where we’re headed toward.

    While I’d appreciate seeing this information when I’m browsing through notable daily highlights, I’m not sure I could stomach the numbers appearing with every live broadcast replays.

    Also, has this technology been utilized with other sports? It seems not, since it reportedly made a big splash at the Sports Analytics Conference. If that’s true, then would you want to see other sports replays with similarly relevant stats alongside every live broadcast replay?

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