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MLB offers peek at new tracking technology for defense

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Major League Baseball Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman presented a new technology designed to “revolutionize the way people evaluate baseball, by presenting for the first time the tools that connect all actions that happen on a field to determine how they work together.”

“This is going to be pretty exciting,” Bowman said. “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.”

There is no debate: this is some cool stuff.

Like PITCHf/x, the new system — which does not yet have a name (personally, I’m calling it OMGf/x) — will be able to tell you the velocity, release point, spin rate and path of each pitch, but where that currently-in-place system ends (at least as far as the public is concerned), this one is just getting started. If a batter makes contact, the batted-ball speed, launch angle, distance and hang time will be tracked, as will each fielder’s first-step reaction time, speed, acceleration and route to the ball, and each baserunner’s speed and route.

Here is a glimpse of what the new tracking technology can do, using Andrew McCutchen’s catch as an example.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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