While the lovers of all sports have developed a fascination with statistics over time, few are quite as zealous as baseball lovers. From RBI’s to BAA’s to BABIP’s, there is perhaps no other sport that generates as many statistics as baseball and fans memorize them religiously. What’s more, they spend hours and hours arguing stats to determine who the best players are. As technology advances in the world of baseball, so do the number of stats available. Advanced analytics are changing the game of baseball, but not just for coaches, scouts and managers. It’s changing the game for the fans as well.
Technology is nothing new to the world of professional sports, but yesterday’s “advanced technology” often becomes such a central part of the sports landscape that we often fail to remember that it was once revolutionary. Radar guns, for instance, were revolutionary when they were first introduced in the world of baseball. For the first time ever, the precise speed of a fastball moving upwards of 90 MPH could be determined in an instant. Radar guns have now been replaced by even more exact technology that can actually map out the precise and nearly undetectable arc of a speeding baseball or the exact angle of a bat hitting a ball.
All of this technology is simply increasing the amount of data available with which to analyze performance in baseball. Not only is that data helping athletes and trainers to increase performance, but it is also giving fans a greater opportunity to analyze the performance of players as well. While the term “armchair quarterback” may have been coined for football, fans of all sports love to detail, analyze and compare performance between players and even what they feel they themselves might have done.
Where fans of yesterday may have compared players based on how many hits, runs or strikes they made, tomorrow’s fans will be able to compare them based on batted ball speed or the angle or velocity of hits or catches. In other words, fans of today may bemoan their favorite player hitting a pop fly rather than a line drive straight into left field. Fans of tomorrow will be bemoaning that the bat hit the ball at a 76-degree angle, resulting in a line drive to left field, rather than an 82-degree angle, which would have sent it flying high over the stands.