Statcast primer: Baseball will never be the same (2024)

Have you wondered how fast the ball comes off of Giancarlo Stanton's bat? How much ground Andrew McCutchen actually covers in center field? Or just how fast Billy Hamilton really is? Thanks to Statcast, a revolutionary tracking technology, we can finally get definitive answers.

Statcast is already being utilized by Major League front offices, while fans have had the chance to see its groundbreaking abilities in breakdowns of last year's All-Star Game and postseason, as well as on a few highlight clips this season. The technology will continue to be incorporated into every MLB Network Showcase game, and used to analyze player performance both on the Network and

Here's a quick primer on what exactly Statcast can do and what it will mean for Major League Baseball:

Video: MLB Tonight on the use of Statcast and future of MLB

What is Statcast?

Statcast, a state-of-the-art tracking technology, is capable of gathering and displaying previously immeasurable aspects of the game.

Statcast collects the data using a series of high-resolution optical cameras along with radar equipment that has been installed in all 30 Major League ballparks. The technology precisely tracks the location and movements of the ball and every player on the field at any given time.

Statcast: Glossary of terms

The result is an unparalleled amount of figures and information, covering everything from the pitcher to the batter to any defensive players -- and everything in between. Statcast has been deemed by MLB Network analyst Brian Kenny to be "a revolutionary technology that will change the way fans around the world view our national pastime."

"Our hope is that this, for baseball, will be one of the largest advances in instant replay that we've seen in the last 50 years," said Bob Bowman, Major League Baseball's president of business and media.

Video: MLB Central uses Statcast on Pillar's amazing catch

What can it measure?

The better question for this category may very well have been what can't Statcast measure?

Starting with the pitcher, Statcast can obviously measure the simple data points such as velocity. That said, Statcast digs a whole lot deeper, also providing the perceived velocity -- a number derived from the velocity of a pitch at the exact release point. After all, a 90 mph pitch delivered from a 54-inch release point will seem faster to a hitter than a pitch of the same velocity released from two inches closer to the mound.

Speaking of that release point, Statcast will measure the distance from a pitcher's release point to the front edge of the pitching rubber on every pitch. It will also calculate the time it takes for a pitcher from his first movement to delivering the pitch toward home plate, as well as the ultimate spin rate of that eventual pitch.

Moving on to hitters, Statcast is capable of measuring the velocity, launch angle and vector of the ball as it comes off the bat. From there, Statcast will also track the hang time and distance that the ball travels, as well as a projected landing-point distance on home runs.

As one might expect, Statcast has even more wide-ranging capabilities when it comes to tracking baserunners and defensive players. From top speed to acceleration to first-step times, Statcast will be able to break down exactly why a player was successful or unsuccessful in swiping a base or making a difficult catch in the outfield. Among other things, Statcast can also monitor how far a player traveled on a given play, as well as how efficient his route was in tracking a ball, transferring the ball from his glove to his throwing hand and the velocity of the ensuing throw.

Video: See the power of Statcast through Springer's catch

Why it matters

Statcast will not only change the way fans watch the game and evaluate players, but it also figures to have a profound long-term impact on Major League front offices.

While fans can employ Statcast in their endless debates about which pitcher's breaking ball is nastier or which outfielder's catch was better, executives will have the luxury of evaluating players using never-before-seen metrics.

"It's already changing the game," said MLB Network analyst Tom Verducci. "Major League teams are using this to evaluate players and even to evaluate Draft picks."

Verducci pointed to Astros starter Collin McHugh as a prime example. The Astros selected the right-hander off waivers from the Rockies in December 2013 despite the fact that McHugh sported an 0-8 record to go along with an unsightly 8.94 ERA at that point through his first 15 Major League outings.

Apparently, however, the Astros had liked what they saw when evaluating the spin rate on his curveball, so they took him off waivers and encouraged him to throw it more. The result was a breakout season for McHugh, who tallied a 2.73 ERA over 25 starts last season and is off to a 2-0 start with an even better 1.54 ERA through two outings in 2015.

"Statcast will provide us, and Major League front offices, with the tools to dig deeper into advanced metrics," Kenny said, "altering the perception of a player's value and helping us to appreciate the unique athleticism a player possesses."

It will also add an element to the way fans evaluate players. Instead of just looking at the leaders in Triple Crown categories or even advanced sabermetrics, fans will now be able to seek out players with the fastest average speeds on the basepaths, the best route efficiencies over the course of a season or the strongest throws from each position.

"The context of it gets better as you acquire more data, so we can say things like, 'That was the fifth-fastest run to first base' or 'That was the best route efficiency this season,'" said Joe Inzerillo, executive vice president and chief technology officer of MLB Advanced Media. "Those types of statistics will wind up being developed over time, and then, on a historical basis, a decade from now we'll be looking back saying, 'That was the highest route efficiency that's ever been captured in baseball.'"

Paul Casella is a reporter for

Statcast primer: Baseball will never be the same (2024)


Statcast primer: Baseball will never be the same? ›

Statcast, a state-of-the-art tracking technology, is capable of gathering and displaying previously immeasurable aspects of the game. Statcast collects the data using a series of high-resolution optical cameras along with radar equipment that has been installed in all 30 Major League ballparks.

How has Statcast changed baseball? ›

About Statcast

Statcast can be considered the next step in the evolution of how we consume and think about the sport of baseball, encompassing pitch tracking, hit tracking, player tracking and even bat tracking for all Major League games.

Who has the hardest hit baseball in the Statcast era? ›

He launched a 121.7 mph homer against Texas in August 2018 -- the big league record in the Statcast era -- and a 121.3 mph shot at Washington in July 2020 that ranks second.

What is the fastest pitch ever recorded in Statcast history? ›

Aaron Hicks registered the fastest throw recorded by Statcast, at 105.5 miles per hour (169.8 km/h).

What is the chase rate in baseball? ›

Chase Rate represents the percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone at which a batter swings.

Why did baseball lose its popularity? ›

Fans Aren't As Patient

The game requires more knowledge and patience than any other sport but lacks the action and physicality of other professional leagues like the NFL. In addition, the games are slow, and the season is the longest of any other sport with a 162-game schedule.

What does MLB use for Statcast? ›

MLB's answer is a system of 12 cameras positioned around each ballpark, the source of the data that makes up Statcast. (The optical tracking system is the product of sports tech company Hawk-Eye, best known for making line calls in tennis.)

How fast was Babe Ruth's fastball? ›

Ruth fanned 3.6/9 for his career. He never averaged 5/9 a season, even at age 21. Three-and-a-half whiffs per freaking 9 innings with a 90 mph fastball against players using 40-ounce bats.

Who is considered the greatest pitcher of all time? ›

1. Walter Johnson
Inning Pitched#3
Complete Games#4
1 more row

What was Randy Johnson's fastest pitch? ›

Pitching style

In the prime of his career, Johnson's fastball was clocked as high as 102 mph (164 km/h), with a low three-quarters delivery (nearly sidearm). His signature pitch was a slider that broke down and away from left-handed hitters and down and in to right-handed hitters.

What is a good whiff rate? ›

Quality of StuffCSW%
Quality of StuffCSW%
4 more rows
May 31, 2022

What does 4 RBI mean in baseball? ›

A run batted in or runs batted in (RBI) is a statistic in baseball and softball that credits a batter for making a play that allows a run to be scored (except in certain situations such as when an error is made on the play).

What is whip rate in baseball? ›

"WHIP" stands for walks plus hits per inning pitched, measuring how many walks and hits a pitcher gives up per inning of work – providing an indication how many baserunners a pitcher. The statistic is calculated by adding the number of hits and walks, divided by the number of innings pitched.

How has baseball analytics changed? ›

Baseball has always been grounded in statistical awareness, but the widespread computer advances of the early 2000s has allowed teams to garner volumes of data used to gain insight on player performance, pitcher/batter matchups, scouting prospects and, most importantly, game management.

How did sabermetrics change baseball? ›

With the help of sabermetrics, teams can: Forecast results by making predictions based on previous data. Analyze on-field performance by recording and evaluating important aspects of play. Assist in decision-making by offering objective insights into players' performance, matchups, and scouting prospects.

How has the game of baseball changed? ›

In successive years, rules were changed to ban the spitball (1920), changed again to ban any moistened pitch (1968); and then in rapid succession the strike zone was shrunk, the pitcher's mound was lowered, and the save rule was changed two more times.

When did the Statcast era start in baseball? ›

A state-of-the-art tracking technology, Statcast has found its way into all 30 Major League ballparks, and has been measuring nearly every aspect of players' games since its debut in 2015.

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