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HIST W350 Baseball as History

About this Page

This page of the course guide is focused on the current emphasis on data visualization in Major League Baseball. Below you will find resources related to Statcast and analyzing data visualizations during baseball games and online. If you have any questions about the resources on this page, please feel free to email me at jkflemin@iu.edu.

Baseball data visualization

The above data visualization was created by Bill Petti and is available through the Tableau Data Visualization gallery. This visualization is a great example of numerous visualizations you can find online that use Statcast data. 

Data Visualization and Baseball

What is Statcast?

Definition:

The MLB defines Statcast as, "a state-of-the-art tracking technology that allows for the collection and analysis of a massive amount of baseball data in ways that were never possible in the past"(MLB Glossary).

Components of Statcast:

  • When Statcast was introduced into the MLB in 2015, it had two components: Trackman (tracked the movement of the ball on the field) and Hego (tracked the movement of the players).
  • In early 2020, the MLB announced that they would be upgrading the Statcast system and start using Hawk-Eye technology to track both the ball and the players as well as, Google Cloud to store the collected data. 

Where Can You Access Statcast Data?

You can access the data collected by Statcast through the MLB website and on Savant Baseball.

Statcast:

Statcast Data:

 

Analyzing Statcast in a Baseball Game:

You don't have to intensely analyze the Statcast data highlighted in a baseball game (unless you want to of course). However, you can recognize that the technology is being used and think about how the technology impacts the game critically. 

Questions to Consider:

  • How is the data presented during the game adding to/changing your perception of what is happening?
  • When is the data being shared during the game?
  • How are the broadcasters talking about the data? Does the description/commentary change the way you view the game you are watching?

Analyzing Statcast Data Visualizations:

When analyzing Statcast visualizations, it's important to keep a few things in mind:

  • Each visualization is made by someone who is interpreting the data.
  • Every visualization is in a specific format and that format can play a role in how the data is viewed and interpreted.
  • Data visualizations are made with a specific argument in mind. It is important to be able to find that argument and decide if the visualization proves or adds to that argument.

Example:

Example of analyzing a data visualization