Cleat Geeks

Sabermetrics Simplified – Introduction into SABR

Hello everyone, my name is Austin Hutchinson and I’m your new Sabermetrics writer here at Cleat Geeks!

Down to business. Every week or so (usually Sunday nights), I will be doing an article that makes all of your lives easier? Why’s that? Cause I’m making Sabermetrics easy for you to understand.SABR43-logo

For those who don’t know (ahem, get out of your cave), Sabermetrics (which is a completely made up term), is a byproduct of the “Society for American Baseball Research” (hence the SABR in sabermetrics.)

To give you a mini biography of how this term came to be, this genius mathematical dude (his name is Bill James) was sitting at his job (a cannery in Kansas for crying out loud!) in the early 1970s, when he decided he should figure out how to break down baseball numerically.

Soon enough, James and his partners, Pete Palmer and Dick Cramer, came together to form SABR.

A new era of baseball, and all of sports, was created.  One where a new generation of nerds could understand the game. Where they pulled out these electronic devices called Personal Computers, and were able to quickly evaluate what players had done before, to predict what they might do in their future.

moneyballAs the Hollywood film “Moneyball” depicted, this divided two lines of sports fans, scouts, and front offices.

Should baseball stick to its guns? Where talent is evaluated by seeing what a radar gun says? Or by how far a home run seems to travel off the bat? Should old school statistics be weighed more like Wins and Batting Average?

Or should we question what we’ve always been told? Can digging deep with numbers and statistics tell us whether or not a player will be or will continue to be successful?

That’s where I come in. I believe you need a balance between these 2 ideas.

Yes, stats can tell me what has happened over a period of time. For example, How many 1st pitch strikes with a two-seam fastball has caused the pitcher to throw an outside breaking pitch the next pitch in the National league?

Lets say this happened 119 times last year.WrigleyScoreboard

But can those numbers tell me that it was a bad breaking ball? Honestly, there was 36 times where it was hanging and it should’ve been called a strike, but the Ump made a bad call.

Then are those advanced stats really correct?

But lets say this guy meets the eye test. Billy Bob is 6’5″, 215 pounds. He hits 400 foot bombs in BP.

But then he steps up to the plate and watches a curve ball go by likes its a butterfly. He gets struck out 4 times on 12 curve balls.

Then is the eye test really correct?

The whole entire point is this – we cannot judge a baseball player completely by what stats say on paper, or what they look like in real life. Or even by what their batting average says, compared to what their on base percentage could be if they took 5 more walks.

Baseball is still a game that needs to be observed with both our eyes and minds. If we cannot see it, we cannot mentally understand it. If we cannot mentally understand it, we cannot see it.

The beauty of baseball, I tell you.

Next week I’ll cover the lie that is the Win. Why you might ask? Because a pitcher shouldn’t be judged when his team cannot score.

For example, Billy Bob goes 8-19 in 2017. A record that would consider a release or demotion.

Yet Billy Bob still has a sub 3 earned run average and almost 200 strike outs over 200 innings.

Billy Bob should have a better record, but when he goes to arbitration for a new contract, those 19 losses might lose him millions of dollars.

Shouldn’t there be a better way to show how a pitcher performs that isn’t affected by his team’s performance around him?

Next week, I’ll discuss stats like Quality Starts (QS) and Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) that are used in the Sabermetric community to better analyze a pitcher’s performance and value.

Quote of the Week-

“You can observe a lot just by watching” – Yogi Berra




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