ESPN quietly adds pitch tracking to MLB Gamecast


Those who like to follow the MLB on ESPN.com may have recently found a treat in their Gamecast: pitch velocity and pitch type data. This has been a long-awaited feature from baseball fans who have seen similar features exclusively on MLB.com for several years, likely due to MLB’s relationship with Sportvision, the provider of Pitch F/X.

The only official acknowledgement of these features to be found is a rather innocuous tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:

Check out the new additions to the MLB Gamecast, now featuring pitch types and velocities. http://es.pn/1llFX87  pic.twitter.com/3Bc6FlOUQC

The picture linked to can be seen here (click for a closer look):

I find this choice of screenshot interesting, since there is a key thing missing from the live Gamecast I pulled up: pitch locations. Check out my screenshot, with annotations, to see what I’m talking about.

ESPNGamecastannotated

In the Game Feed, you can see the same thing being promoted by the ESPN Stats & Info tweet, which is the velocity and type for each pitch (the “ball 1″ pitch updated shortly thereafter with more info). Since the strike zone and heat map was not present in the tweet, I have to wonder whether those pitch locations are “official” in the sense that the Pitch F/X data that MLB.com uses is.

Which brings us to the larger question: are we getting Pitch F/X data? Traditionally, nobody gets access to it until MLB Advanced Media releases it to the public in an .xml file at the end of the day. Well, nobody except MLB.com’s Gameday web app and MLB At Bat mobile app, which gives you live pitch locations, velocities, and types.

I’ve reached out to ESPN for comment and am awaiting word back. If they respond, check back here for updates.

Tags: Baseball Featured MLB Pitch Tracking Popular Technology