Feb 12, 2010, 4:25 PM EST
Defense: the final frontier . . .:
This could be the year that baseball-stat freaks finally crack the
“Derek Jeter enigma.” A panel of coaches has awarded the New York
Yankees’ shortstop four of the past six Gold Glove awards for fielding
excellence. That drives statisticians nuts, because nearly every
statistical model ranks Jeter’s defense below average.
But evaluating fielding is baseball’s hardest math. There are just
too many unknowns in a play. How much ground did Jeter cover? How fast
was the ball moving? In essence: How unlikely was it that he’d catch
This off-season, the broadcast-tech company Sportvision will install
a new player-tracking camera system into ballparks that could finally
help produce accurate defensive statistics.
The system basically consists of multiple cameras recording the action combined with object-recognition software
which identifies the speed of and the route taken by the fielder, the location of the base runners and the trajectory of the ball. Then some science or math or magic or whatever happens after which one can compare the fielder’s performance with everyone else in the database. Which, after a while, should be everyone.
I try my hardest to stay up on the defensive metrics, but I really struggle to commit any of the stats or rankings to the same sort of memory that allows me to instantly say who’s a good hitter and who isn’t. If this system makes it easier for old men with little room left in their brains for new information to track defense, I’m all for it.
(thanks to Luke H. for the link)
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