ATLANTA -- As the first few weeks of this season have elapsed, Braves manager Brian Snitker has become even more appreciative of how the adoption of a much heavier analytical approach has aided his team's defense, primarily in the outfield."It's good information and it works," Snitker said. "It's not going
ATLANTA -- As the first few weeks of this season have elapsed, Braves manager Brian Snitker has become even more appreciative of how the adoption of a much heavier analytical approach has aided his team's defense, primarily in the outfield.
"It's good information and it works," Snitker said. "It's not going to work every time. This is baseball. You play percentages and it's not going to be 100 percent all the time. But I've been impressed by what we've done so far and how the guys have bought into what we're doing."
The adjusted positioning has seemingly aided right fielder Nick Markakis, who has been successful with each of his three attempts to make a 3-star catch (anything with a catch probability between 51-75 percent). He was 7-for-17 on those plays last year.
"The daily information we receive every day about a game we're about to play is pretty extensive in comparison to what we're used to," Snitker said.
Snitker admits he did not know much about a heavy analytics approach before Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos joined the organization in November. Anthopoulos hired director of Major League operations Alex Tamin, who oversees an analytics department that has been significantly enhanced since the front-office staff was overhauled this past offseason.
Tamin's department organizes data which he relays to the coaching staff on a daily basis to devise game plans. First-base coach Eric Young discusses the information with the outfielders and third-base coach Ron Washington handles the infielders.
Each of the outfielders takes the field with a card that spells out where they should be positioned defensively in different situations against each of the opposing team's batters.
Statcast™ data shows the Braves' outfielders have consistently played a little deeper this season. Looking simply at games played at SunTrust Park, the left fielders have been positioned on average 305 feet from the plate, as opposed to 300 ft. in 2017. The center fielders' starting position has moved from 317 ft.to 323 ft. and the right fielders have moved from 286 ft. to 298 ft.
"There's a lot that goes into that," Snitker said. "It's pretty much a group effort every day preparing for that game we're going to play. They've changed some things according to the makeup of our ballpark in terms of where they position guys. It's just amazing with all the in-depth studies."
The Braves haven't needed to tinker much with center fielder Ender Inciarte, who has won two consecutive National League Gold Glove Awards. But until Ronald Acuna Jr. arrives they will continue to provide assistance to left fielder Preston Tucker, who has at least exceeded the expectations of those who considered him to be a defensive liability.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.