A new camera and software system, currently in its final testing phase, would record the exact location of the ball and every player on the field, giving precise measurements of such factors as arm strength, speed and fielding range, according to The New York Times.
Backers crow that it stands to be the single greatest technological advancement in Baseball statistics since the invention of the box score in 1845.
"It can be a big deal," says Mark Shapiro, general manager for the Cleveland Indians. "We've gotten so much data for offense, but defensive objective analysis has been the most challenging area to get any meaningful handle on."
The four high-resolution cameras needed for the system are perched on towers 162 feet up, recording all movement on the field in three dimensions and writing it to a control room. Software figures out which movements are hitters, fielders, the ball, and anything else that might be in the field of play. More than two million location points could be recorded for a single game.
The camera system has been installed and tested at AT&T Park, the home field of the San Francisco Giants, by Sportsvision, the Bay Area company that created the virtual first-down marker for football broadcasts and car-tracking software for Nascar. Plans are in the works to install the software in 30 major league stadiums, at a price tag of $5 million each.
"It will give fans other things to argue about and discuss, and highlight details of the sport that you hear about a lot but you don't know too much about," says Bob Bowman, chief executive of Sportsvision. "It has broadcasting applications for graphics, things like that, and also has real-world applications to teams who have to evaluate players."
Some players welcome the new statistics, which could change the way talent is evaluated.
"It'll be neat to find out what the numbers are," said Vernon Wells, centerfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays. "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 more about offense and hitting the balls out of the ballpark."