Lindbergh: Baseball stats still haven’t pivoted away from video

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer on April 5, 2018, with mention of SABR members Ben Jedlovec and John Dewan:

In July 2009, a tech company called Sportvision held its second annual “PITCHf/x summit” in San Francisco. Sportvision, whose founder briefly brought the glowing puck to hockey and more lastingly supplied the virtual first-down line to football, was then about two years removed from revolutionizing baseball analysis with its PITCHf/x system, a network of cameras and computers installed in every major league park prior to the 2008 season that tracked the speed, movement, and location of every pitch. At the summit, Sportvision announced plans for a much more ambitious follow-up: FIELDf/x, which would record the position of every player on the field. Cutting-edge team and internet analysts flocked to San Francisco to hear or deliver presentations about the potentially transformative technology, and Sportvision broadcast the conference via livestream for any writers with way too much time on their hands who may have wanted to live-blog a stat summit at length.

After a day of digesting and daydreaming about data, the summit attendees went to a Giants game at AT&T Park (thereby disproving silly stereotypes about stat nerds not watching baseball). One attendee recently recalled that during the game, an internet analyst told Ben Jedlovec, a research analyst for Baseball Info Solutions—a baseball data provider that relied on human input from “video scouts” and ballpark-based stringers—that with the way Sportvision was expanding its automated offerings, BIS would “be out of business in two years.” Sportvision, and automated tracking technology, looked like the future of baseball stats, and there seemed to be little room in that future for the eye test, however rigorous.

Almost a decade later, automated tracking technology in sports is, as expected, more sophisticated and more ubiquitous than ever before.

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Originally published: April 5, 2018. Last Updated: April 5, 2018.