Introducing Sportsvision's FieldFX

Leave a comment

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
the ball?

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)

Jonny Venters is still pitching

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
4 Comments

Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.