Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

10 reasons I do like sabermetrics

So, in order to be fair, as a companion to yesterday's post, here are my 10 reasons why I like sabermetrics.

1. Putting it all together:

You have to feel they're putting it all together, sort of a Grand Unified Theory, just like in physics. If they keep working on it, someone will hit on that magic formula and we'll finally know all the answers. Who is the greatest player of all time? Who belongs in the Hall of Fame, and who doesn't? Which team is the greatest? Who was a contender, and was a pretender? Who was the Most Valuable Player? The sabermatricians are doing some serious stuff, and you have to think one day someone will hit that magic formula. They're getting closer all the time, and some day they'll make it.

2. It's just another way at looking at the same thing:

Fans have been obsessed with the stats since the beginning of the game, and that's how they've all developed. That's how they developed in all sports. Baseball started tracking the numbers, and so did every other sport once they organized. All states are "created". Yes, the counting stats do happen on the field of play, but they are base for others. Just as someone developed the idea of pitcher Wins and batter RBI's to evaluate how a player was doing, the new stuff does the same thing. It just looks different.

3. The world moves on:

Batting average and earned run average were developed so that we could measure a player's effectiveness. They were new and innovative at the time, and that's what people knew. They reason they were simplistic in approach is because anyone with a pencil, a piece of paper, and a sixth-grade education could sit down and figure them out. Now, with the advent of calculators, home computers, and the Internet, stats are looked at differently. We have the ability to look at them from a different perspective, so we do. Complicated formulas can be derived, spreadsheets can be developed, and new evaluation tools can be used. If they could have done this in 1876, someone would have. Stat heads aren't a new development, they were just technologically delayed.

4. It helps bring in new fans:

Baseball is a game of leisure that takes its time, and takes patience to watch. In today's world of MTV and the X-games, sound bites and strobe lights are what captures most kid’s attention. But because of the technology, and the saber stuff that has developed, more kids are interested than have been in a long time. Kids raised in the computer generation don't play sports, or watch, as much as I did when I was a kid. But because of the saber stuff, kids are paying attention. That's always a good thing. The more kids interested in the game, the better it is for the game.

5. It's interesting:

I tried to be a math major in college, because I was always good at it. About the time I got to Calc III, for the second time, I realized I wasn't quite as good at it as I thought I was. But I am still able to follow (somewhat) the math behind a lot of the stuff. Not all of it, but enough to understand where it's going. As such, I like looking at the saber-stuff and seeing how it develops, and seeing how it relates to the game. It's just a different way at looking at the same thing.

6. Can it help my team?

More and more teams are looking at sabermetrics in an effort to evaluate players, in order to get the best players for the team. If they can help my team get the best players, and make them a better team, I'm all for it. Any tool that can help find us the best players is always a good thing. Sabermetrics provides an in-depth look at what the players can do, from a standardized point of view. And it's not all retroactive, like the counting stats are. They tell you what a player has done, but there is a lot of good work being done with the projection systems, to tell us what players might be able to do.

7. There's something for everyone:

Even if you're a traditionalist, and you don't like all the formulas, or don't understand them, and want your counting stats, there is much more than that. It's not all WARP, VORP, and Win Shares. Sabermetrics is looking at the game through numbers. All numbers. The work being done with park factors is great, and so is a lot of the new defensive stuff, such as UZR, biZ, zone ratings, etc. OPS+ and ERA+ offer a way to compare players across era's. BABIP and OBP obviously tell a better story than the ERA and batting average. There's something for everyone, and you can pick and choose what you want.

8. I don’t want to get left behind:

Sabermetrics is here to stay, and more and more teams are using. Probably every team, in some form. Newspapers and websites are changing the box scores all the time. It’s here, it’s not going away and I want to keep up with it. Discussions about baseball are the only more interesting in this world than the lies we tell about women. There are a lot of smart people out there, and a whole bunch of them younger than me. If I want to be able to discuss the game, I have to know what it is I’m talking about. Talking to my 79-year old father about RBI’s is fine. It doesn’t work with my 20-year old nephew. If I want to be able to talk about baseball 10 years from now, I had better learn what it is we’re all going to be talking about. 

That isn’t really a like, but more of a necessity.

9. How I spend my time:

Instead of spending 2 hours a day surfing through, now I can spend 3, with all the new stuff that has been added.

Actually, I couldn't think of more than 9, but that doesn't matter. I think these 7 sum it up pretty well. There might be more, better, reasons, and I'm willing to listen.

As I said, I'm a mix between traditional and sabermetrics. Why should we limit ourselves to one side of the discussion when we can embrace both?

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