Statcast comes to televised games tonight

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We’ve talked about Statcast before. It’s the 3D tracking technology from MLB Advanced Media which has been available to some degree on MLB.com replays and the like. It shows how fast guys run, how hard the ball is hit off the bat, defensive player routes and the like. It was showcases online during last year’s playoffs in replays like this one.

As of tonight, it’s coming to television:

Baseball fans will have an opportunity to view a live game like never before when Statcast makes its television debut during today’s MLB Network Showcase game between the Cardinals and Nationals at 7 p.m. ET. If you’ve ever wondered how fast the ball comes off of Bryce Harper’s bat, or just how much ground Jason Heyward can cover in the outfield, your chance to get definitive answers is finally here.

The link at MLB.com has a primer at what it is, how it will be used and what sort of information viewers will be able to get from it. It’s worth your time, as it’s a thing that, I presume, will be increasingly integrated into broadcasts much the way PitchF/X strike zones and things have been. I also presume that, before even seeing it, many will decry it as the over-statting of baseball and make all of the usual jokes about mother’s basements, computer simulations and the like.

There may be some growing pains and there will certainly be a learning curve involved for both the broadcasters and viewers, who will need some time to figure out which of the newly available metrics are worth a damn, what numbers = good and what numbers = bad and so on. But good on MLB for trying to innovate.

Justin Verlander named 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner

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Astros starter Justin Verlander was voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner. Teammate Gerrit Cole finished in a close second place at 159 points. Charlie Morton finished third at 75 points, Shane Bieber fourth at 64, Lance Lynn fifth at 18, Eduardo Rodríguez and Lucas Giolito sixth at eight, and Mike Minor eighth at seven.

Verlander, 36, won the AL Cy Young Award (and AL MVP Award) in 2011 with the Tigers). He and Cole became the first pair of teammates to finish first and second on the ballot for the AL Cy Young Award. Four NL teammates accomplished the feat: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2001 and ’02, Don Newcomb and Sal Maglie in 1956, and Mike Marshall and Andy Messersmith in 1974.

During the regular season, Verlander led all starting pitchers in wins (21), games started (34), innings pitched (223), and WHIP (0.803). He also compiled a 2.58 ERA with a 300/42 K/BB ratio. Along with a 300-strikeout season, Verlander achieved other milestones, including reaching 3,000 strikeouts for his career and 200 career postseason strikeouts (an all-time record).

2019 was not without controversy for Verlander, a future Hall of Famer, as he had a well-publicized disagreement with Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. He tried to have Fenech barred from the clubhouse during media availability despite the collective bargaining agreement ensuring access to BBWAA-credentialed reporters. It was one of many Astros-related scandals in 2019.

Verlander is the first Astro to win the Cy Young Award since Dallas Keuchel in 2015. Roger Clemens (2004) and Mike Scott (1986) also won the award back when the Astros were in the National League.