Welcome to the future. At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston today, MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman unveiled a new analytics system that will change the way we look at baseball and player evaluation. While PITCHf/x has provided a treasure trove of information in recent years, this new system aims to track every play on the field and accurately measure things like defense, the path of the ball, and baserunning.
“This is going to be pretty exciting,” Bowman said. “We think it’s going to change the way we argue about the game, but we don’t think it’s going to settle any debates. We hope it starts more.”
For a look at the new system, check out this game-ending catch from Braves outfielder Jason Heyward last year:
Get used to hearing the phrase “route efficiency” a lot.
Miller Park in Milwaukee, Target Field in Minnesota and Citi Field in New York will use the tracking system in 2014 and the hope is that it will be ready to roll out in all 30 ballparks by next year. Bowman said that the technology will be available “for baseball operations and some fan use for 2014,” which is pretty darn exciting.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.