How Hit Tracker Works

Hit Tracker is a highly accurate method of estimating home run distances.  It combines observational data (time of flight and landing location) with atmospheric data (temperature, wind & altitude) to recreate the complete trajectory of the ball in flight, after which it is a simple matter to determine how far the ball would have flown if it had been allowed to return all the way back down to field level.  Hit Tracker runs inside MS Excel via Visual Basic macros, and typically provides an answer in 10-30 seconds, which makes it ideal for in-stadium use.

Hit Tracker is a more robust method than the well-known "Tale of the Tape" system popularized in the late 80’s by its sponsor, IBM  (read here to learn more about this method).

  • Hit Tracker includes the effects of atmospheric conditions, which have a profound effect on the flight of the ball; TotT does not.
  • Hit Tracker allows any landing position, based on the precise spot where the ball lands; TotT divides the stands into sections, and provides only three possible numbers for each section.
  • Hit Tracker inputs are all objective (time of flight, landing location, temperature, etc.), and thus immune to observer bias; TotT requires the user to select the trajectory of the ball from one of three possibilities, thus introducing posible error if two users choose different trajectories.
  • Hit Tracker provides as an output the entire 3-dimensional flight path of the ball, allowing the user to compare the recreated flight path to the real one and thus have confidence that the estimate is accurate; TotT only provides a distance number, with no supporting information to help "convince" the user of its accuracy.
  • Hit Tracker provides the speed off the bat and the precise directional angles that the ball took as is was hit, allowing the user to adjust the atmospheric conditions and see the effect on the homer (e.g. take a home run hit in Fenway Park and see how far it would travel in Coors Field); TotT only gives a distance number.
  • Hit Tracker’s precise trajectory information can be used to evaluate player performance when HT is used on all balls hit in the air, not just homers, and is particularly well-suited to factoring out the impact of ballparks and environmental conditions; TotT only provides home run distances, and not very accurately…

For a detailed example of how Hit Tracker works, click here

For a glossary of Hit Tracker terms, click here

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2 comments

  1. Zack

    Oh my god, I *have* to know how far A-Rod’s bomb went tonight at Safeco. I’m gonna guess that it went 463 feet. Wow. He absolutely clobbered it into an exit half a dozen rows into the upper deck.

    Nice explanation of Hit Tracker, BTW.

    -The Baseball Collector

  2. Greg

    Looks like 421 feet. It certainly did look very impressive, but that exit tunnel in the upper deck, at the point his ball entered it, is only 391 feet from home plate (and 45 feet above field level). Safeco, like a few other of the new stadiums, was designed to make the upper decks reachable (and not coincidentally, closer to the field for the fans’ sake). The simple truth is, in many parks, an upper deck homer isn’t what it used to be (and in Yankee Stadium’s right field, it never was)

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