Kagan: The physics of fielding grounders

From SABR member David Kagan at The Hardball Times on May 15, 2018:

I have often said ballplayers are pretty good experimental physicists. It turns out infielders specifically are also excellent at geometry, especially the geometry of triangles. So, let’s take a look at the challenge of collecting grounders from this point of view. We might even learn a thing or two that could possibly improve infield shifts.

On every ground ball, infielders need to solve the triangle shown below. One side goes from home plate to the original position of the infielder. The second side goes from home to the location of the ball, and the final side goes from the initial position of the fielder to the ball.

The solution to this triangle is complicated because the sides that involve the ball change their length as the ball moves toward the outfield. The infielder has to move the right direction so his path intersects with the moving ball. In addition, the fielder would prefer to get to the ball as quickly as possible to improve the odds his throw will beat the runner at first base.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/the-physics-of-fielding-grounders/

Originally published: May 15, 2018. Last Updated: May 15, 2018.