MLBAM's Statcast Tracker Technology Influencing Player Contracts, Evaluations
Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier's six-year, $53.5M contract extension last month could "change the way others evaluate players, and how they attempt to use" MLBAM's Statcast technology to "turn rows of numbers into tangible dollar values, ones that turn relatively unknown players into multimillionaires," according to Ben Berkon of the N.Y. TIMES. Statcast, a "combination of radar and optical tracking technologies, has been heralded as a data revolution." Its cameras have "captured volumes of hitting, pitching and baserunning data" in MLB ballparks since '15. Beyond extensions and free-agent contracts, Statcast "could ultimately have a greater impact on arbitration cases." What "most compelled the Rays to hang on to Kiermaier was his ability to field his position." Kiermaier, "hardly a household name in professional sports, represents the new order in baseball, a sport that has been reshaped in staggering ways in recent years by a convergence of statistical analysis and camera technology." Last season, the Statcast technology "expanded to measure outfielders’ defensive aptitude, including a defender’s arm strength, first step, route efficiency and reaction time." MLBAM Dir of Baseball Research & Development Daren Willman said, "Where it’s really going to end up is, players are going to start getting paid a ton more money because they play great defense and everybody realizes it." MLBAM "disseminates its Statcast data equally to every team," and what individual teams "do with the information is their business." Rays Senior VP/Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom said, "Having Statcast available to us, even though it’s in its infancy, and we’re learning about it, makes a more precise evaluation possible" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/18).