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Hawk-eye, Google, Databricks: The Technology Companies Powering MLB's Data Utilization: Utilizing Data in Sports part 2

2024-06-14
Genki Daido
Genki Daido
Sales Developer

Tech Companies Supporting MLB

MLB actively utilizes data to deliver top league performance to fans. By analyzing the plays and movements of players in detail, they strategize based on this data and continuously work to provide fans with a new perspective to enjoy the game.

Did you know that behind this effort, there is cooperation with renowned technology companies?

Hawk-eye: From Tennis Challenge System to MLB

Hawk-eye, famous for the "Challenge" system in tennis, also handles goal-line technology in soccer and data acquisition in MLB stadiums. Since 2020, Hawk-eye cameras have been installed in all MLB ballparks, with 12 cameras per stadium, tracking player movements and ball trajectories with high precision during games. In 2023, these cameras were upgraded to high-performance cameras capturing at 300 frames per second, allowing the capture of bat heads passing over home plate and the release and contact points of pitches, which were previously unmeasurable. This enables biomechanical analysis of pitchers and batters, explaining how baseball players can perform their amazing feats.

Interestingly, Hawk-eye is a subsidiary of Sony, leveraging Sony's digital experience and optical system technology to support data collection in MLB.

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Cited from Making Sports More Exciting Through Visualization TechnologyHawk-Eye Innovations and MLB Introduce Next-Gen Baseball Tracking and Analytics Platform

Google Cloud Technology Supporting Data Infrastructure

The collected data is stored on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and made available for use by each team and fans. Previously, AWS played this role, but now GCP has taken over.

The entire system is called Statcast, and MLB creates new fan content through Statcast.

Hybrid Experience Combining Real and Digital

In a talk video discussing MLB's data utilization and fan experience evolution, Truman Boyes, MLB's Senior Vice President of Technology Infrastructure, stated, "The digital experience is important even for those who are at the stadium. It's a hybrid situation where they are watching the game in the stadium while also watching replays on their smartphones." The insight that the digital experience is important even for those at the stadium is very intriguing.

Providing Deeper Understanding for Core Fans

On MLB's official website, fans can view the vast amount of data on Statcast through various metrics. They are able to enjoy detailed performance data of players and teams, gaining a deeper understanding. One noteworthy feature is the ability to export data in CSV format. While platforms like Laliga's Beyond Stats or the J.League's stats pages allow viewing of stats, they do not offer export functions. The export feature enables fans to track performance, create custom reports focusing on specific players or teams, and visualize data with graphs and charts — giving fans an experience as if they are part of the team's data analysis unit. Morph Beta 2

Cited from statcast_leaderboard

Data x Video

Additionally, by combining Statcast data with video data, MLB provides a video platform that explains the situations in highlights using data, rather than just showing highlights. This video platform offers detailed analysis of player movements behind plays, creating highly interesting content for fans.

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Databricks: Solutions for Data Utilization and Collaboration

Databricks is a typical solution for teams to utilize and collaborate on data. The Databricks platform enables real-time data acquisition and analysis, greatly empowering decision-making and strategy during games. Coaches and analysts can also analyze players' biomechanical data, aiding in performance improvement and injury prevention. This allows for more precise strategy and player management, enhancing the team's competitiveness.

Teams in MLB span professional and minor leagues internationally, with the number of players estimated to be around 6,000 to 7,000. This extensive player data, regardless of the organization's distribution, provides a collaborative environment for data engineers, data scientists, and data analysts.

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Cited from Cracking the Code: How Databricks is Reshaping Major League Baseball with Biomechanics Data

Why Morph Focuses on Utilizing Data in Sports

Morph is collaborating with the football club "SHIBUYA CITY FC," which aims to join the J-League representing Shibuya, to promote their use of athlete data.

However, compared to plethora of devices that collect athlete data, software to effectively utilize that data is still developing, and there is room for improvement.

In this context, Morph can effectively fill the gap between data collection and utilization, providing a flexible tool for data utilization.

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