From a physics point of view, is there an argument that it is advantageous for an outfielder to dive for a waist high ball rather than attempt to catch it on the run?
For an infielder...
I am an outfielder and I do think it can be helpful on occasion to skip the last stride before catching the ball and essentially gliding and subsequently falling to the knees to have the movement be more steady right before catching the ball on a running catch. Do today's outfielders showboat a little on occasion? It's possible. Diving for a ball is a little risky. At 61 years of age, if the ball is just out of reach, I normally will let it drop in.I haven't yet digested all of your response, but my initial question was specifically about an outfielder. I'm thinking of the cases when he runs to the left or right to catch a ball about waist high. It makes the highlight reels but is it really necessary or helpful, compared to just continuing to run toward the ball? I think, generally speaking, the great outfielders of the past didn't dive like they do today.