Matt Williams mic'd up
Already the leader in advanced analytics among major professional sports, baseball is about to take another leap.
Major League Baseball's Advanced media department announced at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics convention a brand new feature for the 2014 season. Starting this year cameras will be placed in select MLB ballparks to install a field-tracking system.
The cameras will chart the efficiency and speed of outfield routes, as well as similar metrics for baserunners. Advanced stats for pitchers and hitters during at-bats will be available as well.
Three ballparks will get the cameras this year with every stadium having them by the start of 2015. Exactly how available they will be for fan use, however, is not clear. Some say they could become a staple of online gametracker programs, just like pitch/fx.
MLB.com has an example of how the stats can enhance a replay with a Jason Heyward highlight from last season. The field-tracking technology was tested at Citi Field before they rolled it out on Saturday:
This new development should give us more insight into who the best defensive players are in baseball. It should settle some debates and could improve the credibility of the Gold Glove award.
It could also help the case of more underrated defensive players in the game. For instance, perhaps Denard Span will become more appreciated for his direct routes to flyballs in center field.