Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Statcast is pretty neat. The brainchild of MLBAM collects data using a series of high-resolution optical cameras and radar equipment to precisely track the location and movements of the ball and every player on the field at any given time. The result: new data about how hard balls are hit in the form of the dramatic sounding “exit velocity.” The angle of elevation of each batted ball. Route efficiency for hitters and other things. So much new data.
Data, however, is kind of useless without context. It takes some time to get context and Statcast has only been around a couple of years. A lot of smart people are messing around with all of that new data and I am confident that at some point there will be some insights gained about our beloved game based on the manipulation and interpretation of said data. They’re smart dudes.
For now, though, it’s generally being talked about — at least by broadcasters and fans — like some kind of parlor trick or something from those 1001 interesting facts books. “Oh, wow, look how hard that ball was hit!” being the most common thing you hear mentioned. On some abstract level it’s cool that we know that a homer had an exit velocity of 103 m.p.h. or whatever, but for now, until we can say something beyond just how hard the ball was hit, all that really matters is that it went over the fence.
Which brings us to the hardest-hit ball of all time! It happened last night in the Marlins-Twins game. It was a hit off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. Not surprising! He hits the ball hard! It also happened to be a ground ball which turned into one of the easier double plays you’ll see on a given night:
Obviously angle of elevation matters a good bit too. And at some point I’m sure someone will be able to make some keen insights into how those things go together with the type of pitch delivered and perhaps explain how hitters can maximize the chances of the sweet spot in both of those metrics coming together. For now, however, it’s still “oh, neat,” as I pencil in 4-6-3 into my scorebook.
Some bad news for a big name: the White Sox have designated shortstop Jimmy Rollins for assignment.
Chicago did so to call up top shortstop prospect Tim Anderson today. They did that because Rollins was hitting a mere .221/.295/.329 with two homers and eight RBI over 149 at-bats. That’s in keeping with his 2015 performance, so it’s less likely a slow start than simply where Rollins is as a player right now.
Anderson, meanwhile, was hitting .304/.325/.409 at Triple-A this year. He had a similar yet slightly better line at Double-A last season. He hit a tad better than that across three levels in 2014. Just as Rollins is who he is now, Anderson seems to be a guy who can get on base at a decent clip for a middle infielder and supply some gap power on occasion. It’s time to see what the 23-year-old can do in the bigs.
This may not be the end of the line for Rollins. Rollins’ defense has noticeably deteriorated, but perception tends to lag the numbers with some front offices and so someone might still think he’s a plausible stopgap at shortstop based on reputation alone. Hard to say. As of now, he’s 37 with a career line of .264/.324/.418 and has 2,455 hits, 231 homers, 470 stolen bases, four Gold Gloves, an MVP Award and a World Series on his resume.
UPDATE: At least one source is saying Austen has been fired.
12:16 PM: Emily Austen, the sideline reporter for Tampa Bay Rays and Orlando Magic broadcasts on Fox Sports Florida, went on a Facebook livestream for Barstool Sports yesterday. She may be looking for a job come Monday morning.
During the livestream, which has since been deleted, Austen called Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love a “little bitch” playing up the idea that an athlete who gets a concussion, like Love did the other night, as “soft.” She said she “didn’t even know that Mexicans were that smart,” talked about how “Chinese guys” are good at math and referenced “the way I used to talk to the Jews in Boca” when she was a waitress, playing off of one of the Barstool hosts’ comment that Jews were stingy.
This sort of thing may be par for the course for Barstool, which has never shied away from sexist and racist commentary, but Fox Sports South was none too pleased. They issued this comment this morning:
We were made aware that Emily Austen appeared in a social media video unaffiliated with FOX Sports in which she made insensitive and derogatory comments. She was not speaking on behalf of FOX Sports, nor do we condone any of the statements she made in the video. Emily has been advised that her comments were unacceptable, and she is not scheduled to appear on any upcoming FOX Sports Florida or FOX Sports Sun broadcasts.
I’d read that as a suspension which, after some meetings with Austen, HR and Legal, could turn into a termination. When your job is to be the face of a network, you can’t put egg on it like Austen did here.