bill james

Sabermetrics is the specialized analysis of baseball through objective, empirical evidence, specifically baseball statistics that measure in-game activity. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the ‘Society for American Baseball Research.’ It was coined by Bill James, who is one of its pioneers and is often considered its most prominent advocate and public face.

‘The Sabermetric Manifesto’ by David Grabiner (1994) begins: ‘Bill James defined sabermetrics as ‘the search for objective knowledge about baseball.’ Thus, sabermetrics attempts to answer objective questions about baseball, such as ‘which player on the Red Sox contributed the most to the team’s offense?’ or ‘How many home runs will Ken Griffey hit next year?’

It cannot deal with the subjective judgments which are also important to the game, such as ‘Who is your favorite player?’ or ‘That was a great game.’ It may, however, attempt to settle questions such as ‘Was Willie Mays faster than Mickey Mantle?’ by establishing several possible parameters for examining speed in objective studies (how many triples each man hit, how many bases each man stole, how many times he was caught stealing) and then reaching a tentative conclusion on the basis of these individual studies.

Sabermetricians frequently question traditional measures of baseball skill. For instance, they doubt that batting average is as useful as conventional wisdom says it is because team batting average provides a relatively poor fit for team runs scored. Sabermetric reasoning would say that runs win ballgames, and that a good measure of a player’s worth is his ability to help his team score more runs than the opposing team. This may imply that the traditional RBI is an effective metric; however, sabermetricians also reject RBI, for a number of reasons. Rather, sabermetric measures are usually phrased in terms of either runs or team wins. For example, a player might be described as being worth 54 runs more than a replacement-level player at the same position over the course of a full season, as the sabermetric statistic VORP can indicate.


One Comment to “Sabermetrics”

  1. It’s a process I wish I understood. Extremely complex. Good thing there’s an internet out there to do this stuff for me!

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