On the way to work this morning, I was listening to a podcast interview with Andrew Zimbalist for his appearance at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse earlier this month. As I pulled up to my office’s driveway, they were discussing fielding. Used to be the conventional wisdom was to base a players defensive prowess based on his fielding percentage. That’s no longer the case. There are all sorts of metrics now, including Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), among other acronyms. Zimbalist’s gist was that you still can’t judge on numbers alone. Where was the fielder standing? Was he already moving based on scouting information/pitcher/pitch? How hard was the ball hit? How fast was the runner? How spot-on was the throw? Etc., etc., ad naseum.
So it was a fun coincidence that I received an email from Matt Hagens who compiled this chart on “Turf Grass At Major League Baseball Parks.” Which, of course, leads to the question, does the field surface come into play, so to speak, when it comes to judging fielders? As some grasses smoother, softer? Do they have an impact on the ball? Inquiring minds want to know! I’m sure someone will get around to doing a study on this.