David Pinto has posted one of my favorite things on the Internet: fielding graphs for each major league player. What’s more, David has graphs for the last three consecutive years, plus 2004. You can “see” the strengths and weaknesses of individual fielders in a way that goes far beyond your typical “one number fits all” stat.
Take a look , for instance, at Carlos Beltran’s graph. Beltran is, of course, an excellent center fielder, but his range is best toward left center field and not right center (which you can spot in the blue line). Could be he shades that way, or it could be that he just naturally gets better jumps going to his right.
The other thing I find crazy about Beltran’s graph is that, in general, less outfield flies are hit straightaway to center field, and more are hit into the gaps. And the balls that are hit directly into center field aren’t caught as often, which indicates they’re hit in front of or behind the center fielder. Proof that batters really do have some control over where they hit the ball.