Baseball is getting an eye in the sky

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Big Brother will soon be watching you, major leaguers, and it’s a really, really good thing:

As baseball’s statistical revolution marches on, the last refuge for
the baseball aesthete has been the sport’s less quantifiable skills:
outfielders’ arm strength, base-running efficiency and other
you-won’t-find-that-in-the-box-score esoterica. But debates over the
quickest center fielder or the rangiest shortstop are about to graduate
from argument to algorithm.

A new camera and software system in its final testing phases will
record the exact speed and location of the ball and every player on the
field, allowing the most digitized of sports to be overrun anew by
hundreds of innovative statistics that will rate players more
accurately, almost certainly affect their compensation and perhaps
alter how the game itself is played.

This is going to be a huge in that it will (a) take most of the
guesswork out of player analysis by allowing us to quantify defense and
base running and things like that; and (b) it will radically alter the
scouting landscape, likely replacing the subjective analysis of a
traveling baseball man with the objective analysis of guys in cubes
back at the home office. Make as many derisive spreadsheet-and-laptop
jokes about that as you’d like, but it will make teams smarter and
better.

One potential application not mentioned in the article: enhancing
broadcasts of games. If you capture everything, would it not be
possible one day to allow viewers at home to watch the game from any
number of angles rather than rely on the centerfield shot and whatever
else a director in a truck wants us to see? If that happens, one of the
best things about seeing a game in person — being able to watch what,
say, the third baseman does as the pitcher goes into the windup or what
the base runner on third is doing to distract him — can be enjoyed
from the comforts of home.

Corey Knebel sets modern record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout

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Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.

Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.

Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.