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Digital Baseball

July 28, 2009

A while back, I mentioned a new digital imaging system that will track essentially everything needed to create a close to perfect defensive metric.  Yesterday, CBS News had a nice little report on this system.  This is huge.  This could potentially make current play-by-play systems like Mitchel Lichtman’s UZR or John Dewan’s Plus/Minus obsolete.  It could also give us a more accurate measure of baserunning than Dan Fox’s Equivalent Baserunning Runs.

Pinkerton’s wrong when he says that certain things like home run saving catches can’t be measured by the system- of course it can.  Just use run expectancy charts to find the average run value of the event.  Saving a home run, for example, is worth roughly 1.6 runs on average.  If you want to put it into the context of game situations, just use a Win Probability chart to find the impact that the catch had on the game.  Honestly, it’s not all that difficult.  This system could also allow us to develop a more comprehensive metric for evaluating catchers.  We can measure pop time, accuracy, etc., and compare it to the speed of the baserunner.  We can also better track plays made in and out of foul territory, like the Probabilistic Model of Range, but with even more accuracy.

As technology advances, it seems that scouting on the Major League level is beginning to become less important.  We have Pitch F/X and Hit F/X, and now we’ll have this beautiful system.  And if enough money is spent, this could spread down into the Minor Leagues as well (which is doubtful).  Make no mistake- no matter how advanced our technology, there will always be aspects of the game that cannot be quantified by numbers.  Projection is something that scouts pay a lot of attention to, and it’s imperative in order to draft future superstars and players on the verge of breaking out.  But this system is going to become very, very important when it comes to player evaluations.

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