When someone opens the dashboard on the Rapsodo PITCHING 2.0 app, they are greeted with a wide variety of metrics that describe the most recent pitch: velocity, spin direction, gyro degree, vertical and horizontal break, spin data, release data, and strike zone plot are all available for review seconds after a pitch is thrown. While this instant feedback is extremely valuable, it can be hard to put into context.
For example, is a 12:30 spin direction good for a four-seam fastball? Is 10 inches of horizontal break above average for a 10th grader’s two-seam fastball? How does a younger player’s ability to tunnel pitches stack up against MLB players? These are questions that led to the creation of the Rapsodo RapScore.
WHAT IS A RAPSCORE?
A RapScore is a standardized scale built to rank any baseball or softball player in the world. Created by Rapsodo to combat the challenges that come with analyzing various hitting and pitching data points for individual players, RapScores are designed to help players, coaches, and scouts evaluate performance, utilizing the principles of the 20-80 scale and the data collected by Rapsodo’s Baseball and Softball HITTING 2.0 and PITCHING 2.0 technology.
UNDERSTANDING THE 20-80 SCALE
The 20-80 scouting scale has been a mainstay in baseball since its creation by Branch Rickey over fifty years ago. It is a way for scouts to grade the potential of players, with a 20 rating being the worst professional player and an 80 rating being hall of fame-caliber talent. A 50 rated player is major league average, with a 60 rating being above average and a 40 rating being below average. Generally, scouts rate a variety of skills or tools such as hit, power, and run for batters along with pitch grades and control for pitchers.
RapScore uses the 20-80 scale in a similar manner, grading players not by a scout’s eye, but with quantitative data. RapScore utilizes the Rapsodo player database – one of the largest player databases in baseball and softball – ensuring each player is accurately ranked at any level.
ONE SCALE, FOUR TIERS
While exploring the possibility of creating a standardized scale for player development, it quickly became apparent that there would need to be more than one set of tiers to accurately rank players of all ages and experience. The highest tier needed to be meant for players with professional-level tools in order to accurately grade MLB players, prospects, and top draft talent. However, this Pro Level grouping was not enough, as a majority of Rapsodo’s player development-focused user base does not possess Pro Level tools.
In order to include all users, we ended up creating three additional tiers for players who can’t quite stack up to pro data (yet). These levels are College, High School, and Youth.
No matter the level of player, each person who completes a verified RapScore session will walk away with a RapScore that compares the player to his or her peers. Each tier will hold true with scores from 20-80 and become harder to score higher as his or her tier increases. Players will also get a glimpse of where they stand at the next tier up if they have a viable score on that tier.
For example, when an elite high school pitcher completes a verified RapScore, they will actually receive more than one RapScore: one for their tier, and the next one to two tiers above theirs.
A reasonable set of scores would be 70 High School, 55 College, and 40 Pro. This way, players can see where they stack up against their peers, understand where they currently sit at a college level, and also see where they stack up currently against the MLB’s best.
On the hitting side in the exact same way, a youth player might be a 50 Youth and a 30 High School, but does not qualify for the College or Pro scales given the current level of development. They would only receive these two scores, knowing more improvement is needed to become a college level player in terms of raw talent.
UNDERSTANDING THE RAPSCORE ALGORITHM
RapScore’s algorithm starts by comparing an individual pitch’s metrics to the ideal form of that pitch type as if it were thrown by an MLB player. The algorithm will then take into consideration the pitch’s velocity along with horizontal and vertical movement to create a PitchScore for every pitch type. PitchScore can be thought of as a player’s “raw stuff” metric, and is the foundation of RapScore.
At the end of the session, a player’s RapScore is calculated based on dynamic weighting of a player’s PitchScores. The formula begins with the player’s best fastball and assigns the most weight to this pitch, as a player’s fastball is the most important pitch in an arsenal in evaluation. Off speed pitches are weighted next, with the best off-speed taking the second largest weight, the second-best off speed the third largest weight, so forth and so on.
At the end of the weighting process, the player’s RapScore is provided as a measure of their arsenal’s “stuff”. This RapScore number is then tracked over time as a player improves.
HOW TO GET A RAPSCORE
RapScores gives data-driven players and coaches a wealth of information they can utilize to improve abilities at every level of play. RapScores also help scouts identify player talent without physically seeing a player perform.
Want to get your RapScore? Find a Certified Facility near you to schedule your RapScore session today!
For more information on the technology behind the RapScore, visit www.rapsodo.com.