In 2014, the MLB’s Advanced Media department introduced a new method of measuring every single play that occurs over the course of a game in the form of an advanced tracking system. The tracking system observes plays and sends coordinate data to computer systems at MLBAM (Major League Baseball Advanced Media), which uses algorithms developed by New York University computer science professors Claudio Silva and Carlos Dietrich to compute game metrics. The system had its debut last year at three MLB parks (Miller Park- Milwaukee Brewers, Target Field- Minnesota Twins, and Citi Field- New York Mets), and takes into account statistical factors like error mapping and confidence scoring.
The video below showcases some of the analytical data points made available by MLBAM tracking system. Watch as former Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward makes a game-ending, diving catch in the 9th:
The goal of this project is to revolutionize the way baseball is evaluated; by presenting tools that connect all actions that happen on the field and determining how they work together. This new datastream will enable the industry to understand the whole spectrum of a baseball game (batting, pitching, fielding and baserunning) and enable new metrics for evaluation by clubs, scouts, players and fans. It can be confidently said that this is the largest league-wide embrace of advanced analytics, regarding big data, to date.
(Taken from an MLBAM.com article on the tracking system)
For batting, real-time metrics will be exit velocity, launch angle, projected home run with distance, hang time, and fly-ball distance.
Real-time base-running metrics are lead distance, acceleration, max speed, and home-run trot. “First step, route efficiency, stealing first step, and secondary lead distance will be available with a 12-second delay.” (MLBAM.com)
Fielding metrics available live will be acceleration, max speed, and shift positioning; “12-second–delay metrics will include total distance on caught balls, first step, arm strength (catcher and fielders), exchange (catcher and fielders), pivot, and catcher ‘pop time’ (time to throw down to second base)”. (MLBAM.com)
Needless to say, it’s pretty cool stuff. With the 2015 season well underway, I’m excited to see what the inagural year-end reviews are on this innovative approach to sabermetrics.
Drive Home Safely,
Bryan White, MBA