MLB Tests New Audio System to Prevent Sign Stealing, Speed Up Games

MLB Tests New Audio System to Prevent Sign Stealing, Speed Up Games

Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers are testing an audio communication system in spring training that could speed up games and prevent sign stealing as soon as this season.

The Mets are one team that recently tested the system in which the catcher calls pitches by pressing buttons on a wristband that produce audio tones in the pitcher’s hat. Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said he was impressed with how well the system worked in a test run Friday, especially in cutting dead time between pitches.

“I’m all for anything that allows the pitcher to create better rhythm and tempo, and this system does that,” Hefner said. “As soon as the pitcher gets his 6–3 [groundout], the catcher can be calling the next pitch. And the system allows the catcher to call location, not just the pitch type.

“The feedback from our guys was pretty positive. Most of this generation of players has grown up surrounded by technology, just like wearing ear buds, so it’s not that big of a Houston Texans Jerseys deal to them.”Over the weekend, the two best infielders remaining on MLB's free-agent market found homes. Carlos Correa, CBS Sports' top free agent overall, signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Twins that will allow him to opt out after the first or second season. Trevor Story, meanwhile, linked up with the Boston Red Sox on a six-year agreement that will also grant him the ability to re-enter free agency after his fourth season.

Those signings capped off a busy week for infielders. Dating back to last Monday, two of the top first basemen (Matt Olson, Freddie Freeman) and a potential top third baseman (Matt Chapman) have also changed teams. In other words, you could assemble an All-Star Game-quality infield using only the names above.

Factor in deals consummated before the lockout -- including those involving Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Javier Báez -- and the state of infields across the league has shifted a lot since the last meaningful game.

As such, we here at CBS Sports wanted to take this opportunity to dissect and rank the 10 best infields in the game entering the 2022 season. We did so by mixing the subjective with the objective. We ranked who we considered to have the 15 best infields in the league -- not including catchers or reserves, mind you -- and then we used FanGraphs' ZiPS projections to nail down the exact order of the top 10. A perfect science? No such thing. But this methodology saves us from tough decisions, and therefore it's good enough.

 

10. St. Louis Cardinals: 12.9 projected WAR
The Cardinals just edged the Tampa Bay Rays for the final spot. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, the corner infielders, are responsible for 7.5 of the Cardinals' projected WAR. ZiPS is bullish on Tommy Edman, and thinks that Paul DeJong will enjoy a bounce-back effort. Two other notes worth bearing in mind: 1) Edmundo Sosa, who had a surprisingly productive 2021, was not factored into the above number; and 2) the Cardinals seem likely to hand over the keystone to prospect Nolan Gorman at some point. Gorman, a converted third baseman, has near-elite raw power.

9. Houston Astros: 13 projected WAR
No Correa, no top spot for the Astros. ZiPS loves Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, as you'd expect, but the Astros are projected to receive fewer than four wins total from first base and shortstop.Chicago White Sox Jersey Top prospect Jeremy Peña is slated for league-average production, which might prove to be optimistic given he's appeared in 30 games above the High-A level. Should Peña falter, the Astros would likely turn to Aledmys Díaz or Niko Goodrum; neither would improve Houston's standing on this list.

8. Minnesota Twins: 14.2 projected WAR
And here's Correa. His projection alone is responsible for nearly 40 percent of Minnesota's projected infield WAR. We will point out that Jorge Polanco is probably among the most underrated players in the game on a national level. He's been worth around four wins in each of the last two full seasons, according to FanGraphs' calculations. ZiPS has him around that same level of play this year. Maybe the spotlight on Correa will help Polanco get the credit he deserves.

7. San Diego Padres: 14.6 projected WAR
Put a star next to the Padres' projection, because it hinges on how much playing time one expects from Fernando Tatis Jr. ZiPS has him down for 84 games, or just over half a season. If you believe he'll miss additional time after undergoing wrist surgery, the Padres slip; if you think he'll appear in 90-plus games, the Padres rise. Heady stuff, right? San Diego does have the benefit of employing top prospect CJ Abrams and defensive whiz Ha-Seong Kim , suggesting they're better positioned for infield injuries than most teams.

6. Texas Rangers: 14.7 projected WAR
The Rangers added more than 10 projected wins to their infield total by signing both Corey Seager and Marcus Semien this offseason. Nathaniel Lowe is projected to be a hair above average, meaning the weak spot here is third base. Top prospect Josh Jung will miss a chunk of the season following shoulder surgery, leaving Andy Ibáñez as the top in-house option at the hot corner. ZiPS is higher on Ibáñez than you might suspect given his relative anonymity (1.8 wins), but it's to be seen if he lives up to his projection. In other words, the Rangers might be over-ranked here.

5. Atlanta Braves: 14.9 projected WAR
The defending champions crack the top five. Matt Olson is, understandably, going to be the focus of this infield. It'll be interesting to see if third baseman Austin Riley, who broke out last season to the tune of 33 home runs and 4.2 wins, can maintain that growth. ZiPS seems to think so, projecting him for 33 homers and 3.6 wins.Top prospect Braden Shewmake could slot in if the Braves suffer an injury up-the-middle, giving the Braves some insurance against overexposing reserve Orlando Arcia.


4. New York Mets: 15.1 projected WAR
For housekeeping purposes: we slotted in Jeff McNeil as the second baseman Cincinnati Bengals Jerseysand Eduardo Escobar as the third baseman. It's possible the Mets instead roll with Robinson Canó and J.D. Davis at those positions. That would change things so far as this projection goes, but it speaks to the Mets having good infield depth. All eyes will be on Francisco Lindor as he attempts to atone for a down first season in New York. ZiPS sees him returning to old form in a big way, launching 28 home runs and recording 5.3 wins, or the most he's had since the 2018 season.

3. Boston Red Sox: 15.2 projected WAR
Adding Story gives the Red Sox three different infielders who are projected for four-plus wins. (The other two are, predictably, shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers.) The weak spot for the Red Sox is first, where Bobby Dalbec is projected for just over a single win. The good news for Boston is that top prospect Triston Casas could make his big-league debut sooner than later. Casas was more than 30 percent better than the average hitter in Double- and Triple-A last season.


The Dodgers have added Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner since last trade deadline, helping make up for their winter loss of Corey Seager. The Blue Jays, for their part, now have Matt Chapman in tow following last week's trade. The strongest spot on either team belongs to Turner and the Dodgers' shortstop spot; the weakest, conversely, goes to Cavan Biggio, Toronto's expected starting second baseman.


The Blue Jays' infield is arguably more exciting, given the presence of young stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Still, if we had to pick one or the other, we'd give the nod to the Dodgers because of their outstanding depth. The Dodgers can call upon Chris Taylor and Gavin Lux, or top prospects Michael Busch and Miguel Vargas as needed. Santiago Espinal did nice work last season, but he isn't as established as Taylor. Toronto does have quality prospects Jordan Groshans and Orelvis Martinez nearing the majors, though their next games at the Triple-A level will be their first.

However you break the tie, this much is undeniable: the Dodgers and Blue Jays should both have outstanding infields this season.


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