Advanced analytics in baseball have come a long way since STATS was founded almost 37 years ago. Advanced metrics derived from complicated formulas have changed how teams and media at all levels analyze the game, and STATS’ advanced analytics team has made powerful contributions to that movement.
One of the tools at the forefront of this movement is STATS TVL. STATS TVL tracks pitch type (T), velocity (V) and location (L) to better explore pitchers’ efficiency and hitters’ approach at the plate. Analysis has gradually drifted from basic, easily calculated numbers like ERA, batting average, home runs and RBIs. And despite teams’ most recent foray into deep data for performance improvement and conditioning strategy, this evolution has been largely influenced by fans and media.
Baseball consumers crave the behind-the-score story, wanting to know the how and why that support those basic statistics. Media groups are not only looking to enrich their content, but they also vote for player awards. The outcomes of these awards are almost entirely determined by unique differentiators that are only detectable through advanced analytics. In that sense, every single pitch thrown either tells its own story or contributes to a greater narrative. STATS TVL not only provides in-depth and unique pitch-by-pitch data, but that data supports predictive element that allows media, fans and teams to look into the future of a player’s career.
Take, for example, this article from STATS following the Chicago Cubs signing Yu Darvish, which broke down Darvish’s numbers against left-handers last season by pitch type and usage. The NL Central is loaded with quality left-handed hitters, and Darvish’s second-half performance versus lefties was quite average. Using that data, combined with the TVL data showing those NL Central sluggers fared against the pitches Darvish throws most, STATS arrived at conclusions regarding how Darvish should approach particular hitters – and which pitches hitters should wait to see.
STATS TVL also powers STATS Video Solution (SVS), which allows teams, players and media to easily search video of any pitch thrown during an entire season with filters for particular pitcher-hitter matchups. By combining these products, STATS used TVL data and SVS video to help us understand how AL East aces should approach a revamped New York Yankees lineup that now features Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge in the newest version of the Bash Brothers. Previous matchups were analyzed through pitch type and location to give a sense of what was successful for both the hitter and pitcher. One conclusion drawn from this level of analysis determined Stanton didn’t hit very well against sliders from right-handers. With Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer thrives on the slider and 19 regular season divisional match-ups against Tampa Bay in 2018, there’s a story building that fans would love to get their hands on.
But one story that got an extreme amount of attention this past offseason was MLB teams’ pursuit of young Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who eventually signed with the Los Angeles Angels. With STATS’ 600-league coverage span, TVL data was collected from the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan, allowing STATS to dive into Ohtani’s pitching performance as well as his approach at the plate. From the mound, which pitches did Ohtani throw the most and how effective were they? What percentage did hitters swing and miss on each pitch? How many of each pitch ended up outside the strike zone? From the plate, STATS TVL data showed Ohtani sat on fastballs and crushed them to the tune of a .353 average throughout his Japanese career. But when he faced a splitter? A meager sub-Mendoza .191. SVS video from his at-bats showed how Ohtani turned on an inside heater, but rolled over on a splitter. The hype around Ohtani paired with the lack of domestic historical data begs for this level of analysis. What will we see when this rumored phenom take to the field for the first time in the MLB? The fans demand prediction, and TVL delivers just that.
So whether you’re looking to carefully examine the impacts of a divisional shift, the potential of a league new-comer, STATS TVL delivers the innovative unique data points media groups need to carefully and accurately analyze baseball in the way the fans crave.