Yahoo’s Jeff Passan is reporting that the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that has always been at the forefront of baseball’s analytical revolution, have installed a new high-tech camera system at their home ballpark that they hope will help them save their pitchers from injury.
The system is called Kinatrax, and it is a “markerless motion-capture system” that will produce biomechanical data by capturing and tracking pitchers’ in-game mechanics. The Rays will be the first team in baseball to make use of this system, and they see big payoffs in the future. From Passan:
While Kinatrax’s current version measures the angles and velocities of bones and joints, future versions hope to calculate stress and strain on tendons and ligaments – a potential landmark leap that theoretically would show signs of pitchers whose ulnar collateral ligaments are in peril.
Live in-game data from Kinatrax will not immediately be available. Each pitch is 1.3 gigabytes per camera, and with eight cameras, there are upwards of two terabytes of data per game. Kinatrax will upload data from a game into cloud storage, and it will be ready for the Rays to analyze the next day.
A camera that can tell you exactly when a guys’ UCL is about to snap is pretty pie-in-the-sky, but this seems like a good place to start, and it’s easy to imagine teams getting a lot of use from this kind of biomechanical data. For example, once the Rays build up a good database of what a pitchers’ ideal mechanics look like, this system could be great for identifying slips in form and mechanics before they have a chance to set in and doom a pitcher to a long slump. Here’s hoping this thing works.