Data tracks Royals' key inning-ending double play, second of Napoli's two homers
By Paul Casella
FOX's primetime games on Saturday took on an entirely new look as the network incorporated Statcast™ into its broadcast for the first time.
The Statcast™ technology was available during the Royals' rain-shortened 3-2 win over the Cardinals in 5 1/2 innings, as well as the Red Sox's 8-3 win over the Angels.
Statcast™, which made its live broadcast debut on MLB Network last month, has since been incorporated regularly into other MLB Network broadcasts. Now FOX, the home of both the 2015 All-Star Game and World Series, has joined the club, rolling out the revolutionary player-tracking technology on Saturday.
Royals outfielder Alex Gordon didn't waste much time putting the Statcast™ technology to work, crushing a second-inning home run to put the Royals ahead, 2-1, at the time. Gordon teed off on a 90-mph John Lackey two-seamer, sending the ball off the bat at 107.2 mph and a 27-degree launch angle. Thanks to Statcast™, FOX was able to show that the ball traveled precisely 405.4 feet after spending exactly 5.0 seconds in the air.
Statcast™ also provided an in-depth breakdown of arguably the best defensive team in baseball. With the Royals clinging to a one-run lead and facing a bases-loaded situation in the top of the fifth, their middle-infield duo teamed up for a well-executed inning-ending double play to escape the jam.
Cards shortstop Jhonny Peralta hit a grounder to second baseman Omar Infante, who needed just 0.20 seconds to take his first step and position himself behind the ball. He then flipped to shortstop Alcides Escobar, who transfered the ball in just 0.7 seconds before firing a 72.6-mph throw to first base to complete a 4-6-3 double play.
As for the game in Boston, Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli more than did his part to keep Statcast™ busy by crushing not one but two home runs over the Green Monster at Fenway Park. His second homer, a two-run shot that snapped a 2-2 tie, came on a curveball from Angels starter C.J. Wilson.
Despite the ball coming in at just 77 mph, Napoli turned it around with an exit velocity of a whopping 110 mph. The ball hung in the air for just 4.5 seconds from the point of first contact to its landing spot in the Monster Seats, which Statcast™ tracked at 448.3 feet away from home plate.
For those unfamiliar with the state-of-the-art tracking system, Statcast™ uses a combination of high-resolution cameras and radar equipment to precisely monitor the location and movements of the ball and every player on the field at any given time. The result is a comprehensive list of data that can break down everything from the spin rate on a pitcher's curveball to the speed of the ball coming off the bat to the exact efficiency of an outfielder's route to the baseball.
So whether it's displaying the exact distance and exit velocity on another Hanley Ramirez home run or analyzing Mike Trout's top speed, total distance covered and route efficiency on his way to robbing another home run, Saturday's broadcasts added an entirely new element to the viewing experience.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.