Is there really such a thing as too much technology in baseball? Just as you thought watching a MLB Baseball game couldn’t get any better, it did. Back in March, Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced the formation of a new product that looked like the data-capturing system of our dreams.
StatCast is a 3-D tracking system that provides detailed metrics on the locations and movements of the ball, the players, and even the umpires. While the system is currently installed in only a handful of ballparks, Major League Baseball plans for all 30 stadiums to have it by 2015. Eventually, such systems will proliferate not just through the ranks of all professional sports but to youth sports, affecting everything from how games are taught to the statistical nomenclature of sport.
The really heavy-duty stuff, with multiple variables available within a single play, has seemingly limitless potential. Front offices can use it to measure defense or base-running skills. It was more concept than product, however, and 2014 was essentially going to be a year long beta test, with just three stadiums outfitted with the technology. These technologies, combined with new media devices that will deliver that information, will give fans a new level of feedback about the action on the field and create unprecedented access to players and the game.
StatCast has the potential to revolutionize the way we evaluate baseball. There’s still so much we don’t know about the system and how it’s eventually going to affect the public discourse on the game, but it’s impossible to watch these clips and not get excited. It is a certainty that the scaling and rollout of data at this size will be challenging, and we don’t actually know what kind of information will make its way into the public sector.
But we can dream. And clips like this, along with an actual name for the product, make those dreams seem ever closer to reality. Everyone can see a great play when it appears. But MLB Advanced Media’s new Statcast player tracking metrics explains how it happens.
Tony Cutillo (@TCutillo23)