Statcast, an innovative player-tracking technology that produces revolutionary data, will be making its 2015 television debut during Tuesday's MLB Network Showcase game between the Cardinals and Nationals at 7 p.m. ET.
As a quick primer to some of Statcast's seemingly endless capabilities, here's a look at some standout plays on the young season, analyzed Statcast-style:
Springer robs home run: By now, most people have seen George Springer's game-saving, grand-slam robbing catch from the Astros' April 12 game against the Rangers. It doesn't take analytics to know it was a sensational catch, but Statcast helps to explain exactly what made it so sensational. Thanks to Statcast, we know that Springer took a near-perfect route to the ball, logging a route efficiency of 99.1 percent on the play. It also helped that Springer took just 0.59 seconds to take his first step and needed only 3.19 seconds to accelerate to his max speed of 17.7 mph, all helping him to cover 93.7 feet on the play. More >
Pillar's sensational catch: Not to be outdone, Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar made a jaw-dropping, home-run saving catch of his own three days later against the Rays. Pillar also took a tremendous route to the ball, turning in a route efficiency of 97.9 percent, which is the only reason he even had a chance to scale the 10-foot high Rogers Centre wall to take a home run away from Rays second baseman Tim Beckham. Pillar covered a total of 81.3 feet on the play and reached a top speed of 15.2 mph, though that's likely a bit on the lower side due to the fact that he needed to slow up during the latter part of his sprint in order to perfectly time his leap. More >
Analyzing different pitch types: One of the Statcast tools that figures to be the most utilized by Major League executives when evaluating pitchers is spin rate. This aspect of the player-tracking technology monitors how many rotations a particular pitch would make in one minute (rpm). Looking at some of the more difficult pitches to hit in the Majors, Statcast shows that Matt Harvey's curveball (2,188 rpm) has almost as many rotations on its way to the plate as fireballer Craig Kimbrel's fastball (2,499 rpm). Among the pitches highlighted by Statcast are Matt Shoemaker's splitter (1,166 rpm), Clayton Kershaw's nasty slider (892 rpm) and R.A. Dickey's fluttering knuckleball (824 rpm). More >
How do mechanics affect perceived velocity: Common sense tells us that the closer to the plate that a pitcher is able to release the ball, the faster it will seem to a hitter. Well, Statcast helps to break down just how much a pitcher is able to extend toward home plate and how that extension directly affects the perceived velocity of a pitch. Looking at three examples by varying heights, Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, who checks in at 5-foot-11, manages to extend towards home plate by 6.9 feet, making an 87.6 mph fastball look as if it is coming in at 88.9 mph. Getting a bit taller, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman (6-foot-4) recorded a 7.3-foot extension, making his already blazing 102.1 mph fastball appear as if it is traveling toward the hitter at 103.6 mph. By contrast, Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang -- despite toeing the rubber at 6-foot-7 -- had an extension of just 5.8 feet, while his release point made his 88.1 mph pitch actually seem slower at 86.1 mph. More >
Jones homer vs. Yankees: While it may have already seemed as if Adam Jones' home run off CC Sabathia on April 14 left the ballpark in a hurry, Statcast can now show us just exactly how quickly it all happened. Jones teed off on Sabathia's first-inning pitch, crushing the ball -- which traveled off the bat at a speed of exactly 101 mph -- a projected 389.7 feet with just a 4.26-second hang time. More >
Pagan triples off Kimbrel: In a tense April 9 at-bat, Angel Pagan lined a ninth-inning triple into the right-center field gap after exchanging words with Padres catcher Derek Norris earlier in the at-bat and being subsequently brushed back by a Craig Kimbrel fastball. Pagan won that particular battle, however, turning around a 98-mph fastball -- one that had a perceived velocity of 99.1 mph, thanks to Kimbrel's 6.8-foot extension -- with a line drive that came off the bat at 101.6 mph. Statcast also shows that Pagan reached a top speed of 22.1 mph -- and anything less probably wouldn't have gotten it done -- as he raced around the basepaths and slid into third base barely ahead of the relay throw. More >
Andrelton does it again: Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons took away yet another hit from Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud back when the teams met on April 10. Simmons ranged to his right to make a backhanded stop on the outfield grass before leaping and firing a throw across his body to nail d'Arnaud at first base -- nearly identical to a play he made against d'Arnaud last Aug. 27. Statcast, however, shows that this year's play was even more impressive than last year's due to the fact that Simmons cut his first-step time down from 0.33 seconds on last year's play to an eye-popping 0.11 seconds this time around. The quicker first step also allowed Simmons to get a bit further behind the ball and fire it across the diamond at 68.5 mph, an additional 8.6 mph above his 59.9 mph throw last August. More >
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.