• ADVANCED MEDIA HEAD ADVANCES BASEBALL

    By Murray Chass on May 28, 2017

    At first glance, not to mention second, third, fourth and fifth, Statcast might as well be Greek, as in it’s all Greek to me. I usually don’t like to write about people or things I don’t like because writing about them gives them undeserved notice.

    However, in this instance I am making an exception because while I have no use for Statcast, beyond that I don’t understand why it exists. I don’t care for modern metrics, but at least the people who live and die by them think they have some value.

    The practitioners of modern metrics need the numbers they create to know who is and who isn’t a good player. They are so busy concocting and using what they arrogantly call advanced metrics (as opposed to old-fashioned statistics) that they can’t watch games and let their eyes tell them who is and who isn’t a good player.

    Statcast, however, goes beyond WAR and FIP and UZR. Those metrics supposedly try to tell you who the best players are and how they rank in the firmament. I don’t know what the significance of Statcast is supposed to be other than another silly gimmick to attract viewers to MLB.com.

    But I don’t know why anyone, even 13-year-olds, would be lured to the website by Statcast. Maybe 13-year-olds would find some significance in Statcast, but I don’t. I tried to find out something from a spokesman for MLB Advanced Media, but repeated telephone and e-mail messages went unanswered until it was too late for this column. I am thus left to my own devices, which do not think highly of Statcast.

    First, I went to the Statcast chart on MLB.com. It has these categories:

    Exit velocity (in miles per hour), distance (in feet), launch angle (in degrees), type of hit, the speed of the pitch (in miles per hour) and the pitcher and, of course, the batter. All it lacks is the type of pitch.

    Through Friday’s games, Aaron Judge, the rookie sensation of the New York Yankees, dominated the chart. His name appeared on four of the top eight lines, including the top two with a home run against Kevin Gausman of Baltimore April 28 and a double against Kyle Hendricks of the Chicago Cubs May 5.

    Scrutinizing the chart more closely, I discovered that the order of players was based on exit velocity so that while Judge might be No. 1 and 2 in exit velocity, he isn’t necessarily No. 1 in launch angle. In fact, Judge hit another home run, against Dylan Covey of the Chicago White Sox April 19, that had an exit velocity of 115.6 but a launch angle of 30.1.

    Do not ask me what all of this stuff means. I can understand …

    Murray Chass



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