The Washington Post

Introducing a new baseball analytics feature

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post) (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

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.

Harry Pavlidis is the founder of Pitch Info. Follow him on Twitter: @harrypav.



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