Introducing Sportsvision's FieldFX

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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)

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.