“We’re in the third inning,” Tom Tango, one of the minds behind Statcast, told Passan.
Statcast, which MLB.com notes “is capable of measuring previously unquantifiable aspects of the game,” became available in each of the league’s stadiums in 2015 and is utilized by all 30 front offices. The system tracked 1,435,241 pitches last year, but it was only scratching the surface, writes Passan, who expects it “to fundamentally change how we consume baseball.”
Major League Baseball Advanced Media, otherwise known as BAM, introduced Statcast and is now working to release data that makes the sport easily understandable to the public in a way that sabermetrics don’t.
“What we’re trying to do is we want to make it relevant and relative,” said BAM CEO Bob Bowman, who’s among commissioner Rob Manfred’s closest advisers. “Relevant to what fans are watching right now and relative to other players and similar situations.”
Tango, Daren Willman and Mike Petriello are attempting to put together a Statcast-based Wins Above Replacement to measure players’ values better than the current iterations of WAR. The version Tango, Willman and Petriello could introduce would lay out exactly how much value each position player contributes as a hitter, defender and base runner and, per Passan, possibly grade players on a 1-to-100 scale.
“What will make our version of WAR intriguing,” Willman said, “is the way we’re going to make it accessible.”
Their latest attempt to measure defense comes in the form of Catch Probability, which Petriello unveiled Saturday on MLB.com in another highly recommended piece. Catch Probability uses a 0-100 percent scale to determine how catchable each tracked ball hit to the outfield is, and they’d eventually like to use it to judge infield defense.
“A 40 percent play and 80 percent play are very close,” Tango told Passan. “Less than a second of hangtime. Fifteen to 20 feet of positioning. At a single-play level, that’s where this thing is going to shine.”
Eventually, BAM would like to integrate Statcast’s data into every major league broadcast. So far, the league has gotten incredible bang for its buck from BAM, which began with investments of a couple million dollars from each franchise. Now, according to Passan, the league’s 30 clubs are worth at least $1 billion apiece because all own a stake in BAM.