Baseball box scores and play-by-play logs have been notoriously deficient when describing details of defensive play. Generally, they tell us who made the putout or recorded an assist or error, but they provide no description of the intricate craftsmanship fielders demonstrate while plying their trade.
In 2013, Baseball Info Solutions decided to change that. BIS Video Scouts began recording not just the result of the play but also the descriptive details of the fielders in action. The resulting data isolates each aspect of a fielder’s ability in a number of categories such as movement direction, fielding method, and throw type. Kevin Kiermaier makes a backhand catch on the run back and to the left. Andrelton Simmons rounds off a ball to his right so he can plant his feet to get the most on the throw. From there, we can highlight the differences between players and identify their strengths and weaknesses in the field.
Generally speaking, the forehand is a more successful approach for infielders than the backhand. In 2016, qualified shortstops successfully recorded an hour on 71.6 percent of forehanded balls compared to 60.6 percent on backhands.
With high success rates across the board, our data points to Addison Russell as an elite defender. Range and footwork are the areas where he excels the most, allowing Russell to circle groundballs that many of his peers backhand. One shortstop that relies heavily on his backhand is Carlos Correa, who backhanded the highest percentage of his opportunities among qualified shortstops (21.8%).
Our Descriptive Defense data allows customers to conveniently link each play with the corresponding video clip, allowing you to sort related plays, and build customized playlists. Combining the data and video, it becomes apparent that Correa is backhanding balls that can conceivably be fielded using the forehand. This is just one example of how this data can highlight the stylistic differences between players and identify potential areas of improvement.
This product is available at the Major League and Minor League levels. Among its many uses, this tool is an asset to coaches in player development as well as front office staff looking to evaluate internal and external talent.
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