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Friday, April 24, 2020

Where Mike Trout Stands Out Most

If someone asked you what Mike Trout’s signature skill is, what would your answer be? You might say it’s his power, even though he’s never led his league in homers, or his elite approach, even though he still strikes out a little more often than he walks. If you watched him in person when he was much younger, you might say it isn’t even his steady hitting that defines him, but the way the 6-foot-2, 235-pound mammoth of a man moves, sprinting with top-line speed to steal bases and gliding to field balls hit to center field. The correct answer, of course, isn’t any of those things. What separates Mike Trout from the pack is that he is one of the best, if not the best, at virtually everything. He is the sum of several staggeringly impressive parts.

Still, it feels a bit odd that the player we think of as the best in the game wouldn’t have any specific skill that stands far above the rest of the competition. But while it’s true that Trout has never cruised to a batting title, or demolished the field in homers or walks, the baseball community is constantly coming up with new statistics and methods through which we can evaluate players. Trends, trials, and technology help those new tools grow and improve, and with each one that sticks, we have a new chance to discover a player’s distinctive traits.

In recent years, many of those new revelations have come along because of Statcast, which has introduced an increasing number of statistics into even the casual fan’s lexicon, a technology that gives us a peek into data and visuals we didn’t previously have access to. One of the more recent additions to Statcast’s suite of tools is Swing/Take value, which sorts each pitch into four attack zones based on where it crosses the plate — the heart of the plate, the shadow of the plate, chase pitches, and waste pitches — as well as whether the hitter swung or took the pitch, and uses Tom Tango’s RE288 table to assign the result of each pitch a run value. The result is sort of a hybrid set of data, a glimpse at the particulars of a hitter’s plate approach, as well as his impact when he does decide to swing.

Take, for example, the Swing/Take profile of Anthony Rendon, who led all hitters in Statcast’s Swing/Take runs metric, at +65.

That is, other than his field.

 

QLE Posted: April 24, 2020 at 01:02 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: mike trout, statcast

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

There’s Lots of Physics To Do Now That Hawk-Eye Is Up and Running

I just got done streaming the MLB Statcast Update from the 2020 SABR Analytics Conference.  Wow!  MLB’s baseball research analyst Jason Bernard, vice president of baseball data Greg Cain, baseball scientist Clay Nunnally, and director of baseball research and development Daren Willman shared the status, abilities, and potential of the new data collection system for Statcast called Hawk-Eye.

They reported that MLB has the new data collection system up and running in every park – a bright spot in an otherwise disturbingly messy offseason.  The previous measurement system was a hybrid of radar by Trackman and video technology from ChyronHego.  Hawk-Eye uses only video cameras to collect raw data and, most likely, a massive amount of state-of-the-art computing power to manipulate the flood of images into useful tools.

The new system has 12 cameras arranged around the ballpark.  Five of the cameras look at the area between the mound and home plate. You might recall the original SportVision (now SMT) system used only three.  These cameras are designed for pitch tracking as well as monitoring the pitcher, catcher, batter, and perhaps the umpire as well.  These 8-megapixel cameras collect 100 frames per second. The remaining seven cameras are 11-megapixel, 50 frames per second, and can track the motion of everyone on the field (fielders, runners, coaches, umpires and, who knows, crazed fans).  All told, the cameras generate 10 gigabits of data per second.

Preliminary measurements of strike zone accuracy indicate the position of the pitch can be detected to within, plus or minus, a fourth of an inch horizontally and even better vertically – slightly better than 2018 and 2019 results from the older method.  In regard to batted balls, where the older system was known for losing high fly balls and having to calculate the rest of the trajectory, Hawk-Eye is able to reacquire the trajectory of high fly balls that leave its field of view as the ball drops back down into camera range again.

A description of interest, for those curious as for how the sausage that is baseball data is made.

 

QLE Posted: March 17, 2020 at 01:02 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: data, statcast

 

 

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