2023 SABR Analytics: Watch highlights from Baseball Savant’s Newest Developments Panel

2023 SABR Analytics: Jason Bernard and Dana Bennett of Major League Baseball

At the SABR Analytics Conference on Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona, a panel discussion was held on Baseball Savant’s Newest Developments.

Panelists included Mike Petriello, Jason Bernard, and Dana Bennett of Major League Baseball.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

On the history of Statcast park factors

  • Bernard: “We debuted Statcast park factors, which was a big one, at least for us in terms of something we really thought we could provide using Statcast data that we ultimately, were able to do through towards the end of the first year of COVID. We debuted some things in regards to the pitching side of things with active spin and spin direction. And within the last couple months, we’ve debuted some really nifty things, including arm strength and pitch tempo, not to be confused with the pitch clock that’s being implemented by the rule changes.”

On the Statcast search functionality

  • Bennett: “One of our powerful features at Savant is the Statcast search, which allows you to really filter down and find any single pitch that’s happened in the last, you know, nearly a decade now. … If you did a simple search for Aaron Judge home runs and if you click the 62 pitches that ended in a home run (in 2022), you can see the information (about the pitches). But it also highlights some interesting things, what pitches he hits balls out on, where they are in the zone, how far they go. And then of course, a video at the end.”

On the pitching improvements in Statcast

  • Bennett: “We have two new pitch types that we’re working with. So if you have data processes that are bringing in pitches, just be aware that we have a new slurve and sweeper pitch types. Thinking about it, these are both variants of a slider, I would say. We think of a curveball as having a lot of vertical movement, a slower pitch, and a slider having a little bit more horizontal movement.”

2023 SABR Analytics: Mike Petriello of Major League Baseball

On the factors used to project home runs in all 30 ballparks

  • Petriello: “The current version we have is adjusted based on our Statcast park factors. So it includes things like elevation and wind and temperature and those adjust the home run based on how it would play elsewhere. Essentially, it’s a de facto adjustment for the course that would have the biggest effect on any home run’s trajectory compared to elsewhere. Our plan is to also incorporate a more basic version only looking at exit velocity, launch angle, and park dimensions (so) it’s easier to explain to the basic fan.”

On instantaneous environmental conditions impacting Statcast

  • Petriello: “The main number that will go out to broadcast in those graphics is not accounting for that. It’s just showing that trajectory and distance and everything. Part of the reason is that if you adjusted on an individual basketball basis like that, then people would be like, ‘Yeah, but it’s April. And really, it’s not August.’ Which seems like that opens up a whole can of worms. At the moment, it’s going to be just adjusted on these seasonal averages for that park.”

Transcription assistance from Michael Bosque.

For more coverage of the 2023 SABR Analytics Conference, visit SABR.org/analytics.


Originally published: May 1, 2023. Last Updated: March 22, 2023.