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)
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.