During the 2007 Major League season, I learned of a new technology that was being used to enhance baseball broadcasts and online gamecasts. Then — and now — I was working in and around technology. I read an article in Slate on the PITCHf/x systems that were being installed in every big-league park.
This was an opportunity to get inside baseball, and the skills required to break in had been part of my daily life since the 1990s: scrape, parse, store and present data. The programming aspect of the challenge was minimized when I stumbled upon the work of Mike Fast and Alan Nathan. I turned my attention to not just getting and understanding the data, but using it. I started blogging on my own, writing about pitchers and pitch type identification. Over time I got better at both, and here I am.
Today we can look at nearly every MLB pitch thrown by Stephen Strasburg in a digital form. We know how fast the pitch was moving and which direction it was breaking, and how much. We know where it crossed the plate — ball or strike — and, of course, what the batter did. Newly signed starter Dan Haren has more than 20,000 tracked pitches available for analytical endeavors.
I still work in technology outside of baseball, but part time. The rest of the time I’m providing a data service that, among other uses, backs the Brooks Baseball Player Cards and Baseball Prospectus Pitcher/Batter Tools. I’m also the freshly minted Director of Data Analysis at Baseball Prospectus.
And now, I’ll be blogging here every week. We’ll also be taking this rich PITCHf/x data and using it in other various ways to bolster The Post’s Nats coverage. Stay tuned, and let us know what you think.