Speed bump: Radar readings up with MLB change to StatcastThe scoreboard shows a pitch speed of 94 mph as Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Blake Parker throws against the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 7, 2017, in Anaheim, Calif. From watching broadcasts and scoreboards, fans are seeing velocities ramp up around the majors this year. Check the leaderboards at analytics website Fangraphs, and youll see that last April, pitchers averaged 92.2 mph on four-seam fastballs. Through Thursdays games this season, theyre up to 93.1 mph, an unprecedented jump. Did some 300 pitchers all find ways to boost their speed in the offseason? Not quite. More likely, the perceived speed spike is coming from a change in how pitches are being recorded and reported.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
NEW YORK (AP) -- The scoreboard at Citi Field showed Jacob deGrom hitting 98 mph, and the ballpark buzzed with the Mets star back in top form.
In Seattle, fans surely thought the same when Felix Hernandez's fastball ticked up on opening day. And how about that extra juice from Detroit ace Justin Verlander?
All across the majors, pitchers are ramping up the velocity this season - or at least it seems that way.
Not so fast. They're actually getting a little help: Major League Baseball has changed the way it's recording and reporting pitch speeds, driving up readings all over the league.
After previously using PITCHf/x to provide velocities to broadcasts and ballparks, Major League Baseball Advanced Media is instead supplying numbers from its Statcast system. The key difference is that PITCHf/x calculates velocity at a set point - usually 50 or 55 feet from the back of home plate - while Statcast measures velocity directly out of the pitcher's hand.
Because of that difference, Statcast readings are faster than PITCHf/x by about 0.6 mph on average, according to MLBAM senior data architect Tom Tango.
''We do have the technology to capture the speed right out of the hand now,'' Tango told The Associated Press. ''So that's what we report.''
Trouble is, for now, fans and analysts aren't necessarily comparing apples to apples on pitch speeds from last year.
For example, PITCHf/x had deGrom averaging 93.4 mph on his four-seam fastball during an injury plagued 2016 season. On Wednesday, Statcast measured him at 94.2 mph, a bump deGrom noticed during the game.
''Last year, it felt like all I could do to get to 93 or 94,'' deGrom said.
On Wednesday, he got there no problem, but that 0.8 mph uptick might be mostly because of the new readings. The same may be true for Hernandez (up 0.7 mph on four-seamers from 2016's PITCHf/x to 2017's Statcast data), Verlander (up 0.8 mph) and Stephen Strasburg (up 0.9 mph). Conversely, Arizona's Zack Greinke (down 0.1 mph) might not be holding as steady as it seems.
What does all that mean? For the average fan, perhaps a few more triple-digit fastballs at the stadium, but likely not much else.
For the sabermetric community, it's an effort to get everyone using the same data.
''We're standardizing so we all see the same,'' Tango said.
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