I’ve been an advocate for pitching gifs that give accurate perspectives on pitch movement/shape. Viewing a pitch from an analysis standpoint requires the right balance of vertical and horizontal viewpoints. A camera placed too high or one that is off-center can distort what’s really happening and can either make a pitch look nastier than it actually is or might not do the trajectory justice.
A straight-on camera angle is especially important when creating overlays. When reviewing a particular pitch trajectory and analyzing the results of a certain design, having the right camera is invaluable. I wrote a piece for FanGraphs several months ago that broke down how camera angles can create deception.
Ultimately, the hitter’s perspective is what matters most. However, without access to home plate cameras, we are at the mercy of network broadcast footage. Even with a perfectly lined up view behind the pitcher, it’s not always going to be what the hitter is actually seeing; hell, I used to fall victim to it.
This is where tools like Baseball Prospectus’ terrific Matchup tool or even the Baseball Savant 3D pitch viewer (just be sure to enable the LHH/RHH views and not the catcher/umpire angle) come in handy. If you come across a pitch that looks amazing or an overlay that looks elite, using these tools to cross-reference what you’re seeing can back up your claims.
For the purposes of this exercise, I’ve rated thirty network broadcast centerfield cameras on an A-B-C scale in terms of how useful they are for pitch analysis. Several networks have more than one angle that appears from time to time, so I only included the shots that are the most typical in the gifs I’ve created.
As for the ratings, I looked at both horizontal and vertical point-of-view and ratio, as well as using the stadium lighting scheme to tip the scales for borderline cases; obviously, seeing the ball well matters a bit, so it’s important to have that included in my evaluations.
A-rated cameras are the most ideal to use. Some aren’t perfect, but they give a much better look than others. These shots work well regardless of what handed pitcher is on the mound.
B-rated cameras are passable and may only work for lefties or righties. In this case, let’s say a camera is good for a right-handed pitcher. However, it might not be ideal when facing a right-handed hitter because of where the camera is pointing (see Busch Stadium).
C-rated cameras are basically useless.
Angel Stadium: C
Decent for righty v lefty but marginally so. The slightly angled view tends to skew some of the pitch shapes and can be misleading.
Minute Maid Park: A
One of the best options available. Houston provides a good vertical angle from center field, if slightly zoomed back a bit.
Oakland Coliseum: B
A very level camera. Righty versus lefty works decent. Night games provide good lighting on the baseball.
Rogers Center: B
Good vertical level but no justice for southpaws. When a righty is on the mound, you get a pretty good look. Good light reflection on the ball.
Truist Park: A
One of the best perspectives in all of baseball. The only real flaw is that day games can sometimes make the ball hard to track.
Miller Park: A
Another terrific option. When the stadium is open, the ball can get lost in the shadows.
Busch Stadium: C
Righty vs. lefty is passable at best and the camera is zoomed back a little too far.
Wrigley Field: B
Left-handed pitches aren’t usable and righties barely so, again only to left-handed hitters.
Chase Field: C
You could argue for the RHP v LHH but in this case, its a bit too far off to be considered a ‘B’
Dodgers Stadium: B
Pushing it on a ‘B’ but a very clear camera resolution and the ball is fairly easy to track during night games.
Oracle Park: C
This was close to a ‘B’ given RHP v LHH, but the ball is often too dark at night and really hard to see during day games.
Progressive Field: C
I like the vertical level but too far off center to be usable for either handed pitcher. Ball tracking is decent.
T-Mobile Park: B
Good views on the baseball, mainly at night, but only really works for righties.
Marlins Park: B
Last season, the Marlins were top-dog for pitching. Most of the time they are very symmetrical with their shots and the ball is very easy to track but they tend to use that skewed angle a little too much.
Citi Field: C
Given how interesting their pitching analysis is during home games, the Mets broadcast angle is too far off center to glean anything useful.
Nationals Park: B
Could easily be a ‘C’ for their so-so righty perspective and the ball is at times hard to see, but their clips have good resolution for those that are useful.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards: B
Like the Marlins broadcast, Baltimore was top-notch last year. The lefty views knock them down to a ‘B’ in 2019.
Petco Park: C
Might be one of the worst shots in baseball. When the lighting is right, the ball is easy to see but the FPS on their cameras blur the ball a little too much.
Citizens Bank Park: C
Good vertical level but too far to the left, horizontally. In contention for worst perspective.
PNC Park: A
The Pirates give a great look to both lefties and righties. The only thing that holds them back from being the best is the ball can sometimes be hard to track.
Globe Life Park: C
Another candidate for league-worst. The lighting is decent but not enough to pull them out of the gutter.
Tropicana Park: A
The Rays have consistently been one of the better views to watch. I often go to their broadcasts when doing analysis. Probably the best in baseball right now.
Fenway Park: B
Fenway gives a really good balance of horizontal and vertical shots. However, they lose out on an ‘A’ because the lighting is pretty bad for the baseball.
Great American Ballpark: C
While the Reds give us one of the best up close pitch replays, their standard camera is positioned badly.
Coors Field: B
Horizontally, this look is great but vertically its too elevated and zoomed back too far. Lighting, especially during day games, is terrible and why Colorado’s broadcast is knocked down to a ‘B’
Kauffman Stadium: B
The look at righties is alright and evening games give a decent look at the ball. Ultimately, its too off-kilter for the most part and suffers from wind shaking the camera.
Comerica Park: C
Much like Cleveland, the vertical level is good but just too far to the right. The view of the baseball can be great in the evening (sometimes) but not good enough to pull a ‘B’.
Target Field: B
A strong ‘B’ for the Twins’ broadcast. At times, with righties, the shots are great and with the right lighting, makes for one of the best shots in the league. However, the terrible lefty view keeps it a mid-tier option.
Guaranteed Rate Field: B
Great for righties against lefties, especially during night games where the ball is well-lit.
Yankee Stadium: B
Pretty good for righty v lefty but the inability to track the ball with any regularity keep it at a ‘B’.
So there you have it. Hopefully, this can help you find the best possible clips when performing your own analysis on pitchers or hitters!