Appearing at the eighth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston on Saturday, MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman unveiled a revolutionary system that is geared toward improving player evaluation for fans and scouts alike. The new technology will utilize in-ballpark infrastructure designed to provide the "first complete and reliable measurement of every play on the field."
In short, MLBAM's enhanced player tracking system will change the way we watch and discuss baseball by giving us an immediate and true evaluation of every detail of the game. And when we say every detail, we mean it. From measuring outfielders angles on fly balls to analyzing their reaction time and acceleration speed, we'll be able to see every play for what it is, not what our blind eye may indicate.
For instance, on a brilliant, game-saving diving catch by an outfielder, this new system will let us understand what created that outcome. Was it the quickness of his first step, his acceleration? Was it his initial positioning? What if the pitcher had thrown a different pitch? Everything will be connected for the first time, providing a tool for answers to questions like this and more.
Here's a perfect example of what Newman is talking about from the system's test run at Citi Field last season.
It will also be able to evaluate pitchers and batters.
MLBAM says some pitcher/batter data will be in Real Time. Must. Have. This. pic.twitter.com/d6JJUqYG5c
— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) March 1, 2014
"This is going to be pretty exciting," Bowman said on Saturday. "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."
It may not settle debates, but it should ensure more informed opinions. That's a pretty good start.
"The goal over time, and hopefully certainly by this season, is to make these plays available in real time and start the debates," Bowman said. "But we have to make sure baseball operations sees it and they agree that these are accurate renderings. But this year, fans will be able to see this data and these videos."
Once in place, the player tracking system won't only make fans smarter, it will also give players a new tool to evaluate their own play and figure out how they can improve. By the same token, every scout and front office will be able to make the same evaluations of their own teams and future opponents.
The innovative system is a true game changer, and it's only a matter of time before it's the primary analytic tool used around the league. In fact, it's noted the new technology will be in place at Citi Field, Miller Park and Target Field for the 2014 season, and the plan is to have 30 ballparks equipped by 2015.
The only question left to ask now: How can it possibly get any better?
new MLBAM fielding technology is going to be legit pic.twitter.com/Y74qPPoldu
— nick pants (@nick_pants) March 1, 2014
Unfortunately, the system won't be that honest. But yes, that would make it a little better. We'll just have to accept it as is.
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