The Houston Astros are 13-7 and have a four-game lead in the American League West. What has stoked the team to such an impressive start? Sony San Diego Studios might tell you it's all in the scouting.
The developers behind the MLB: The Show video game series, which is exclusive to the Sony PlayStation family of consoles, has been offering the Astros the images generated from the data they compile when rating players for the game. I'm kidding when I directly tied in Houston's success to the images from Sony, but the blurred lines between reality and game are legit.
How realistic is it?
Here's what Astros Coordinator of Advance Information Tom Koch-Weser had to say per a statement provided to Bleacher Report from Sony Entertainment, "the Sony images offer realistic representations of players. We're excited to incorporate these images in our scouting reports."
The statistical tracking within MLB 15: The Show is as expansive as you'll find in any sports video game. This seems to be a product of the games to achieve a realistic simulation experience as opposed to a more arcade feel.
MLB 15 uses data from advanced statistics firms when generating player ratings and tendencies. Spray charts, pitch velocity and cold and hot zones are factored in and displayed in the game via graphs and other visual presentations.
There's a great deal of technical expertise required to achieve these results, but it's not all game development.
The Sony San Diego team benefits greatly from the presence of someone on their team who has actually played professional baseball. Senior Managing Producer Chris Gill played in the Cincinnati Reds organization from 1989-93. He was also an area scout for the team from 1996-98.
I had an opportunity to speak with Gill about the mindset of the development team when creating the player profiles in the game.
"Just like everything else, we try and make the game as realistic as possible," he said. "It’s a true simulation so we need to make sure the game behaves as close to real life as we can make it. We use real-life stats to determine the hitters’ strengths and weaknesses for hot and cold zones, and batters fly ball/ground ball, pull/oppo tendencies to come up with our spray charts in game."
Obviously, the charts that we see in the game are similar to what we see when watching an ESPN or Fox Sports broadcast. What about the charts that major league teams use and create for themselves?
"It’s pretty much the same," Gill said. "In fact, some MLB teams use the same stats company we do for their scouting reports. At the end of the day, all the MLB teams are getting pretty much the same info. It’s just a matter of how they choose to get it. Some teams use the stat companies, while others rely on their own staff; some may use both."
If the Astros use MLB 15's data and deem it as an asset to their scouting process, we may see more teams asking for Sony's images in the future.
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