Speed bump: Radar readings up with MLB change to Statcast

FILE - In this April 5, 2017, file photo, New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in New York. The scoreboard at Citi Field showed deGrom hitting 98 mph that night, and the ballpark buzzed with the Mets star right-hander seemingly back in top form. From watching broadcasts and scoreboards, fans are seeing velocities ramp up around the majors this year. Check the leaderboards at analytics website Fangraphs, and you’ll see that last April, pitchers averaged 92.2 mph on four-seam fastballs. Through Thursday’s games this season, they’re up to 93.1 mph, an unprecedented jump. Did some 300 pitchers all find ways to boost their speed in the offseason? Not quite. More likely, the perceived speed spike is coming from a change in how pitches are being recorded and reported. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
The scoreboard displays a speed, upper right, on pitch by Arizona Diamondbacks' Randall Delgado to Cleveland Indians' Austin Jackson during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 7, 2017, in Phoenix. From watching broadcasts and scoreboards, fans are seeing velocities ramp up around the majors this year. Check the leaderboards at analytics website Fangraphs, and you’ll see that last April, pitchers averaged 92.2 mph on four-seam fastballs. Through Thursday’s games this season, they’re up to 93.1 mph, an unprecedented jump. Did some 300 pitchers all find ways to boost their speed in the offseason? Not quite. More likely, the perceived speed spike is coming from a change in how pitches are being recorded and reported. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

NEW YORK — The scoreboard at Citi Field showed Jacob deGrom hitting 98 mph, and the ballpark buzzed with the Mets star back in top form.

In Seattle, fans surely thought the same when Felix Hernandez's fastball ticked up on opening day. And how about that extra juice from Detroit ace Justin Verlander?

All across the majors, pitchers are ramping up the velocity this season — or at least it seems that way.

Not so fast. They're actually getting a little help: Major League Baseball has changed the way it's recording and reporting pitch speeds, driving up readings all over the league.

After previously using PITCHf/x to provide velocities to broadcasts and ballparks, Major League Baseball Advanced Media is instead supplying numbers from its Statcast system. They key difference is that PITCHf/x calculates velocity at a set point — usually 50 or 55 feet from the back of home plate — while Statcast is able to measure velocity directly out of the pitcher's hand.

Because of that difference, Statcast readings are faster than PITCHf/x by about 0.6 mph on average, according to MLBAM senior data architect Tom Tango.

"We do have the technology to capture the speed right out of the hand now," Tango told The Associated Press. "So that's what we report."

Trouble is, for now, fans and analysts aren't necessarily comparing apples to apples on pitch speeds from last year.

For example, PITCHf/x had deGrom averaging 93.4 mph on his four-seam fastball during an injury plagued 2016 season. On Wednesday, Statcast measured him at 94.2 mph, a bump deGrom noticed during the game.

"Last year, it felt like all I could do to get to 93 or 94," deGrom said.

On Wednesday, he got there no problem, but that 0.8 mph uptick might be mostly because of the new readings. The same may be true for Hernandez (up 0.7 mph on four-seamers from 2016's PITCHf/x to 2017's Statcast data), Verlander (up 0.8 mph) and Stephen Strasburg (up 0.9 mph). Conversely, Arizona's Zack Greinke (down 0.1 mph) might not be holding as steady as it seems.

What does all that mean? For the average fan, perhaps a few more triple-digit fastballs at the stadium, but likely not much else.

For the sabermetric community, it's an effort to get everyone using the same data.

"We're standardizing so we all see the same," Tango said.

___

Follow Jake Seiner at http://www.twitter.com/jake_seiner

___

More AP baseball: apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Must Read

Wallabies vs All Blacks more than the result on the field

Aug 17, 2017

The Wallabies will test the depth of the crisis affecting Australian rugby when they play New Zealand in a Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday

Meier fires Frankfurt 3rd in Bundesliga with win at Schalke

Jan 27, 2017

Alexander Meier fired Eintracht Frankfurt to third place with a 1-0 win at Schalke to begin the second half of the Bundesliga on Friday

Study finds women competitors dominate NBC's prime time

Aug 15, 2016

A study finds that nearly 59 percent of the prime-time Olympic competition shown so far on NBC involved women athletes

People also read these

Wallabies vs All Blacks more than the result on the field

Aug 17, 2017

The Wallabies will test the depth of the crisis affecting Australian rugby when they play New Zealand in a Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday

Meier fires Frankfurt 3rd in Bundesliga with win at Schalke

Jan 27, 2017

Alexander Meier fired Eintracht Frankfurt to third place with a 1-0 win at Schalke to begin the second half of the Bundesliga on Friday

Study finds women competitors dominate NBC's prime time

Aug 15, 2016

A study finds that nearly 59 percent of the prime-time Olympic competition shown so far on NBC involved women athletes