Druschel: The early flaws of Statcast data

From Henry Druschel at Beyond the Box Score on August 7, 2015:

It was about 18 months ago that baseball fans got their first look at Statcast, at the 2014 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and the excitement was immediate. Not much was shown — only a couple of videos, no more than 5 minutes long in total — but that was enough to send viewers dreaming. It seemed that the player tracking system would revolutionize the way fans engaged with baseball, ranging from deep analysis to the immediate experience of watching a game.

Unsurprisingly, analysts were not isolated from this optimism, given the obvious applications of the new system. BtBS’s own Bryan Grosnick described Statcast as “a prospect tearing up the back fields in spring training… raw, but easy to dream on.” Ben Lindbergh, writing at Baseball Prospectus, pointed out that “the numbers in the Heyward video… are the real thing,” quoting a VP at MLB Advanced Media confirming that the figures shown were actually calculated from Statcast data. Jonah Keri wrote for Grantland that “[Statcast] will allow fans, analysts, and all 30 teams to gain precise information that was previously out of reach.”

That Jonah Keri quote comes from an interview with MLB Advanced Media President Bob Bowman, in which he said, “The goal is to put the product out this year [2014], then get to all 30 parks, then release the data in unvarnished form in 2015.” That’s not exactly what’s happened. Currently, only batted ball data is being released on a regular basis, but the analytic public has still enthusiastically engaged with what is available. Articles and leaderboards featuring batted ball velocity are bouncing around the internet constantly, and efforts to predict breakouts or collapses based on who is over- or under-performing their contact authority are increasingly common.

Read the full article here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2015/8/7/9114877/statcast-flaws-batted-ball-velocity-data

Originally published: August 7, 2015. Last Updated: August 7, 2015.