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Monday, June 27, 2022

[Medium] Baseball’s Next Defining Innovation is Hiding in Plain Sight: Why Tracking the Path of Every Swing is a Must for MLB Teams

I first heard that bat tracking may become a reality in a 2019 article in The Athletic announcing Hawkeye as the league’s new on-field tracking system. The article includes a letter to MLB teams from Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president, strategy, technology and innovation where he says of Hawkeye:

“We expect this next generation system to significantly improve the accuracy and precision of ball and player tracking and unlock new tracking opportunities like bat swing path tracking and player limb tracking.”

He later mentioned that the “swing path tracking” feature would be “released over time” indicating it would not be included in the 2020 launch of the Hawkeye system league-wide.  That was essentially the last I heard publicly about bat tracking becoming a reality in MLB.

Can you identify when a hitter recognizes and reacts to a pitch in the air? What does that tell you about pitch recognition for each pitcher or hitter or pitch type or sequence?

**Since publication, I have learned that most (if not all) teams are receiving bat tracking data from Hawkeye. However, it seems that it is being delivered as raw data that requires each team to make a significant investment of time and resources to convert it into a more usable format.

Cris E Posted: June 27, 2022 at 12:37 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: analysis, whoa

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   1. DL from MN Posted: June 27, 2022 at 12:42 PM (#6084088)
However, it seems that it is being delivered as raw data that requires each team to make a significant investment of time and resources to convert it into a more usable format.

That is a clear 3rd party opportunity.
   2. Lassus Posted: June 27, 2022 at 01:28 PM (#6084099)
How on earth have they been doing this for golf balls for years but not for baseball bats?
   3. Walt Davis Posted: June 27, 2022 at 04:48 PM (#6084136)
Limb tracking? You mean in 5 years I'm gonna have to post nonsense here about how d'Angelo Ortiz's average front knee height has increased by 1.17 inches which explains the 0.4 MPH increase in his EV?
   4. Russ Posted: June 28, 2022 at 10:07 AM (#6084246)
How on earth have they been doing this for golf balls for years but not for baseball bats?

Default camera angles in golf are way more easier to analyze for swing than baseball. You have one camera, very much focused on the golfer, no other distractions generally (grass, trees, some other people far in the distance). Most importantly, the only thing moving in 90% of a golf shot will be the golfer themselves.

Baseball has at least three other humans who are moving (pitcher, catcher, ump), the hitter is smaller sized due to the distance in the default camera view (I guess sideways works ,but then the bat will sometimes leave the field of vision and there is still a lot of visual clutter) , the ball is moving, there is a lot more background noise. Most golfers take between 60 and 80 swings in a round. You will generally get at most half that many from a baseball player in a game. I'm not surprised at all that it took much longer to do it in baseball, it seems like a much, much harder data collection problem.

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