Monday, April 07, 2008

Baseball Stats: Part 1

It might not be common knowledge that nearly every Big League baseball park in America has a system that can track a pitch's movement, break, release point, starting/finishing velocities, and a host of other details.  And for some reason, Major League Baseball compiles and archives all of this data for public consumption on their website.  

And it's all for free!  I know, something for nothing.  It doesn't seem quite right, considering that this is the American pasttime and all.

Anyway, there's a ton of data to look at.  A ridiculous amount.  People analyze this stuff for a living and I don't think anyone's even scratched the surface of what it can reveal about the nature of the game.

Because the data is stored very inconveniently on the MLB servers (in a weird esoteric directory structure), the average fan effectively doesn't have access. And based on the way most MLB games are managed, I sort of doubt that even the experts have adequate access.  You see, the files are really only accessable to a small percentage of the population:

Baseball is different than many spectator sports because there are relatively few intangibles.  Every possible action is decided by some variant of bat-hits-ball, and now that we have access to the flight path of every pitch and how each individual batter reacted to it, there's room for a lot of insight that hasn't been made before.

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