Major League Baseball Advanced Media recently unveiled a new technology which would measure the velocity of each hit as it springs off the hitters bat, the distance from the fielder to the ball, how far the fielder runs in order to catch the ball, and the quality of the route the fielder takes to the ball, among other things.
This breakthrough will not only help Major League Baseball improve its understanding of advanced sabermetrics and analysis, but it will help the New York Yankees by giving them the piece of mind that two of their biggest investments will pay off.
In December, the Yankees signed star center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7-year deal worth $153 million.
Throughout his first seven seasons in the Major Leagues, Ellsbury’s best assets have been his speed and defense. This is a conclusion reached by number-crunching sabrmetricians and old-school scouts alike.
In 2013, Ellsbury saved a career-high 13 runs according to Fangraphs Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) statistic and had an Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of 10.0. Only once in his career has he had a UZR below zero (2009).
In late February, the Yankees signed left fielder Brett Gardner to a 4-year extension worth $52 million, with a team option for a fifth year.
Gardner saved 6 runs in 2013, according to DRS and even though his UZR was -0.5, it was the first time it went below zero.
The fact that it was below zero may say more about UZR’s accuracy than Gardner’s defensive performance, but the point is that both Gardner and Ellsbury are exceptional outfielders and this new technology should show as much.