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Monday, January 08, 2007

The Future of Data Collection

In my post on the Year in Review I noted that I'm looking forward to my third season as a stats stringer for To that piece of info Tangotiger asked whether the stringers would be using stopwatches to record data items like hang time in order to more accurately measure batted balls for purposes of defensive evaluation.

Before I had a chance to ask, Tango took matters into his own hands and had an interesting email conversation with the Director of Stats at MLBAM.

One tidbit here, as many have guessed, is that there will likely eventually be a subscription or premium service to get access to this data in a more useable format. In addition, in relation to my column last week on camera angles he had this to say regarding the Enhanced Gameday system used in the 2006 postseason and which I wrote about here.

"As an aside, what’s been amazing to me about this program is what we’ve learned from the data we captured last season. That is, we found out that what we thought we understood about pitch movement has been, for lack of a better word, wrong. Think about how most fans observe pitches: on TV, through the center field camera. However, think about the challenges of accurately judging the pitch this way: you’re trying to follow a 4-inch wide ball from a distance of 400 or more feet, scaled down onto a 27-inch TV screen or 17-inch computer monitor, or whatever your viewing screen might be. And don’t forget that the camera is offset from center by an unknown amount that varies in each ballpark. This creates massive scaling errors in the human mind… for instance, we discovered that in many cases, a pitch that looks like it just missed the black may actually have been 8 to 10 inches outside."

This is fundamentally the reason why other camera angles or even enhanced computer images like Gameday would be wonderful to have. While the centerfield angle may give us the most information about the pitch in real time, that information is not very accurate.

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