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The Rays are about to implement KinaTrax, a new approach to preventing pitcher injuries

They have a history of innovating in the field, and they're about to become the first team to use a new biomechanical tracking system.

In the injury zone?
In the injury zone?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, the Tampa Bay Rays are about to unleash KinaTrax, a "markerless motion capture technology" that will revolutionize the way teams can evaluate and monitor their pitchers.

The groundbreaking technology, through the use of eight high-speed cameras positioned throughout Tropicana Field, will collect biomechanical data such as 3D location and bone segment orientation of the pitcher on the mound. This information can be used to identify abnormalities in a pitcher's mechanics and help predict potential injuries that might result because of the changes in a pitcher's delivery.

While the technology can currently only gather information regarding a pitcher's bones and joints, the creators of KinaTrax hopes that it will one day do much more.

Passan writes:

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.

The video below showcases the technology's function. However, it is worth noting that the video was published on KinaTrax's Vimeo account in October of 2013. Due to the competitive and proprietary protecting nature of the analytics community, one has to believe that this is only the beginning of what the camera system is capable of monitoring.

This isn't the first time the Rays have been linked to high-tech efforts to understand and prevent pitcher injuries. Joshua Kalk, now an analyst in the Ray's Research and Development department, was once one of the best PITCHf/x analysts in the public domain. Kalk, a physicist by trade, was hired by the Andrew Friedman administration and was one of the early pioneers in the categorization and application of the detailed pitching data collected by MLB.

In 2009, shortly before going to work for the Rays, Kalk published a report on the Hardball Times in which he attempted to create a model that was a capable of predicting when a pitcher was going to suffer an injury. However, rather than predict the possibility of an injury over the course of a month or season, Kalk's goal was to predict the possibility of an injury in the short term by monitoring when a pitcher enters "the injury zone."

Kalk wrote:

Enter the PITCHf/x data. With these data we have a huge number of variables with which to examine a pitch. With a nearly complete data base of every pitch thrown in 2008, this material is a pure gold mine and an excellent place to expand our knowledge of when a pitcher might get injured. The key to this study is that these data will allow us to compare a pitcher when we know he is healthy to the last few pitches he throws before going on the DL. This individualized comparison will help us put a pitcher like Sabathia and one like Jurrjens on equal footing.

Years later, Noah Woodward, also at the Hardball Times, took another crack at Kalk's idea, and it too is worth your read.

Although Kalk concluded that there were many flaws in his model, he believed that it was an important step in predicting and preventing pitcher injuries. With newer, more detailed technology such as KinaTrax at his disposal, Kalk and the Rays will hopefully be able to expand on their ability to predict when a pitcher is about to sustain an injury.

Lord knows the Rays need it.