Fred McGriff's and Bill James's Love Child Will Change The Game

Today, possibly even as you read this, a shadowy cabal of MLB executives, scientists and SABR nerds is meeting to decide the future of baseball. Who will survive the coming new world order? Here's a hint: Not Adam Dunn.

Sportvision is the company behind the virtual first down line, the KZone, and basically every other semi-gimmicky, wholly indispensable technological breakthrough in broadcasting games. Today they're set to unveil their latest creation, as-yet-unnamed, although I call him Fieldor, our dark lord and master.

Yeah it's neat to track pitches, and the flight of the ball. But we already have statistics for that: they're called balls, strikes and outs. Get ready to live in a world where an outfielder's MPH is a common fantasy category, because the new technology tracks the position and movement of every fielder, every base runner, every squirrel that runs on the field and whose charming antics are replayed on the local news.

The system will be in all major league ballparks by next year, which means we'll soon be seeing stats for getting under a fly ball the quickest, rounding second base too widely, and the like.

The implications for human scouts are clear, but a more radical change could take place at the bargaining table. The ability to quantify defense will translate into leverage for agents. So no wonder a guy who's not hitting is solidly behind this:

It'll be neat to find out what the numbers are," said Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells, who is known for smoothly tracking down deep fly balls. "It can be another tool to help you improve in areas of the game. People will learn about playing defense, which has gone by the wayside as people have cared so much about offense and hitting the ball out of the ballpark."

He, for one, welcomes our new computer overlords.

Digital Eyes Will Chart Baseball's Unseen Skills [NY Times]