Discussion about other teams, non-cubs players, baseball history, sabr vs scouting, etc.
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Multiple analysts who work for MLB teams told The Athletic that the change from radar to optical tech is a done deal, and a letter that went out to all 30 teams takes that tone as well. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Athletic, came from Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president, strategy, technology and innovation. It outlined a three-phase plan for bringing in Hawkeye equipment over the course of the rest of this year with an eye for a 2020 Opening Day rollout.
“As many of you know, Major League Baseball is in the process of building the next generation ball and player tracking system,” the email begins. “We expect this next generation system to significantly improve the accuracy and precision of ball and player tracking and unlock new tracing opportunities like bat swing path tracking and player limb tracking. We are currently planning to roll out the initial elements of the system at the MLB level for Opening Day 2020 with enhanced features (like swing path tracking) released over time.”
Trackman’s radar-based technology provided the basis for some of baseball’s most exciting new stats, and without it, we wouldn’t have added terms like exit velocity and spin rate to the modern baseball lexicon. The massive infusion of data tracked things as minute as trash wandering through the outfield, and pushed modern analysis forward leaps and bounds in just four-plus years.
But some complaints about the technology have surfaced in the years since it was first introduced in 2015. It turned out that pop-ups left the area scanned by the radar and had to be matched to optical data, for one. When it first debuted, Trackman missed over half of all pop-ups and as much as one-fifth of all ground balls.
That change is already underway. Phase 1 of the move to Hawk-Eye is set to begin in the next two to three weeks, the email from Marinak said. After that phase — which consists of installing camera mounts, rack equipment, power and cabling infrastructure — Hawk-Eye employees will come to install the cameras (12 field-facing cameras per ballpark) and “confirm full functionality of the system in concert with MLB engineering,” according to the letter.
This is a big deal inside MLB. For those not familiar with the technology they use it in professional tennis for challenges on line calls and it's very accurate. The technology is superior to Trackman from everything I've read, but it seems like the best solution would be a combination of the optical tracking technology of Hawk-Eye cameras and the radar tracking system of Trackman. I'm sure they'll discover problems with this as well, but if it helps make an automated strike zone a reality I'm all for it.
"It was met with, basically, he didn't want to talk about that. He didn't want me to tell him that. I just basically said, 'Well that's why we want an electronic strike zone.'" -- Ben Zobrist