Barzilla: Gold Glove revolution with Meredith Wills

From SABR member Scott Barzilla at Big Leagues Magazine on April 9, 2013, with SABR member Meredith Wills:

It has been awhile since the last edition of the Gold Glove revolution series, but this time it required a little extra help. Last time, we got to the current incarnation of fielding analysis, so it is time to look at what’s next. This is a delicate subject because it involves talking to people that are currently developing the next big thing.

Luckily for me, I know someone that is currently in this process. Dr. Meredith Wills has a PhD in Astrophysics and was working as part of the same space weather team as my wife when she decided to leave science and chase her dream of working in baseball. She has been a huge baseball fan for most of her life and is even in the Hall of Fame, representing the fan organization Stitch and Pitch with her award winning knitting design. She currently manages Soliton Sports Solutions where she utilizes her scientific background and knowledge of the game to adapt quantitative metrics. She has graciously agreed to go on the record for our last two pieces. This time, we will focus on the current metrics being used before going into what is coming on the horizon in fielding analysis.

Big Leagues Magazine: As someone that studies fielding extensively, do you find the current system of awarding Gold Gloves to be accurate and relevant?

Meredith Wills: It’s a mixed bag. I realize that the Gold Gloves are given with the best of intentions, but the fact is that they depend on the votes of managers and coaches. That makes it far too easy to turn the award into a popularity contest like the all-star game. Once someone has gained that honor it often becomes his to lose. In addition, it seems like other aspects such as a player’s hitting, come into the voting as well. Also, a player may become known for “spectacular” fielding which can be a double-edged sword. While many plays demonstrate exceptional ability, they can also demonstrate poor positioning. A player that routinely makes plays with little effort is likely the better fielder, but his plays are chalked up as “easy”. As a result, the best fielders are in danger of being overlooked entirely.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 9, 2013. Last Updated: April 9, 2013.