Statcast is taking the world by storm! Or maybe it’s not, I don’t have the best feel for these things sometimes. Anyway, statcast is the thing that MLB has debuted that will tell you things like what the speed of the ball when it was hit was, a vague sort of route efficiency model for an outfielder on a fly ball, how often something is caught or is a hit. Things like that. As raw data goes, it’s all very fascinating, and I am a proponent of having advanced and cool shit in Major League Baseball.
It is just that. Raw data. It hasn’t been around enough to really give any good conclusions more than “If you hit a ball faster that’s good and you’re probably gonna get a hit.”
Also, it feels kind of mean. This tweet went out during the World Baseball Classic:
I mean, sure, yeah, maybe he broke the wrong way on the ball or didn’t get a good read on it, but it’s still an impressive recovery, and in the moment people were excited for it. I can only imagine what Statcast would do with other life situations.
“So, can I buy you a drink?”
“No thank you.”
“Wow, our numbers suggest she will accept the drink offer 85% of the time! There is also a 65% chance you will die alone because your personality is very grating and you have no social skills!”
Also, since the general public doesn’t have the best idea of how probability works (“YOU SAID THAT THING HAD A 55% CHANCE OF HAPPENING AND IT DIDN’T SO YOUR MODEL IS DUMB.”), having a “This ball is usually caught x% of the time” isn’t the most helpful thing.
As I said before, having this data isn’t bad in itself, it just doesn’t seem to have a practical use beyond the superficial at this point, and so randomly pointing out that a ball is usually caught or fielded 69% of the time so the fact that Chris Owings didn’t on that play means he should move to a monastery every time it happens gets... tiresome. Saying Chris Owings needs to move to a monastery because there he can work on his footwork to get a better first read on the ball? I’m down with that.
They teach footwork at monasteries. It’s with the wine and grape crushing and whatnot.
There’s a 42% chance you didn’t read this very short article and skipped straight to the comments to yell about something and you did it at 2 Mouse MPH.