In response to ampoule's comment:
In response to dannycater's comment:
Victorino is a terrific fielder...Ellsbury is spectacular athletically, but like many guys over the years, he is fundamentally lost. He makes up for his lack of fundamentals with blazing speed. Dwight Evans was so fundamentally sound (and guys like Ellis Valentine), but most are guys who aren't reading the ball correctly off the bat, or hesitate and then go. The greatest fielders don't have to have the speed to get to the ball, they use their fundamentals and ability to read the ball off the bat. Fred Lynn read the ball as well as anyone. Jim Edmonds same thing. But speedy outfielders are great and make great catches and it's about the speed to make up for some of those fundamentals they didn't learn early on.
Are these fundamentals 'learned' or is a lot of it genetic, natural talent?
I think most of it is God given...just honed. Otherwise, every player who really wanted to would be superior.
It's like playing the piano. Not all piano players, even if they practiced until the cows came home, are capable of playing Hungarian Rhapsody #2....even with years of teaching.
- In my life , I have played all three outfield positions. Not on a professional level. Reading the ball off the bat is extremely difficult at times. I was taught to stay still for a split second until you can better judge the flight. The worst thing is to break in and then have to reverse and go back. Much of what you hear about some guys getting a great read on the ball is mythology. Just for information : In 2011 , Ellsbury lead all A.L. Outfielders with 388 putouts. He had no errors and six assists. Fred Lynn had more putouts only twice in his career. 404 in 1975 and 408 in 1978 . In each of those years, he had seven errors. Fred was charged with 55 errors in his career. Ellsbury has been charged with five so far in his career. Sometimes we see things as we like to see them. I am not necessarily saying that Ellsbury is a better center fielder than Lynn. Just saying that we should try to be more objective and avoid some preconceived notions. There is no " fundamental " that teaches you how to judge a fly ball off the bat. You learn from experience.