Monday, November 11, 2013
Congrats to all the BBTF members who contributed to the process!
Well, last year Rawlings announced that they would be using input from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to help decide the winners of the Gold Glove awards going forward. At the time, there was quite a bit of healthy skepticism about the who, what and how of this new methodology, but then the 2013 Gold Gloves came out, and most sabermetrically-minded folks had precious little to complain about.*
* - Little to complain about is relative, especially on the internet. And we’ll get to this later. Promise.
At any rate, SABR and Rawlings invented not a true metric, but an index: the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). SDI was developed by the SABR Defensive Committee (good, smart folks), and takes into account most major defensive metrics and, well, you should probably just read a lot about it here. More importantly, this page also shows us how qualified players scored on the SDI. This is good. Transparency is very, very good. Take a minute and see where the actual winners and the SDI leaders intersect:
Here’s the full SABR SDI results.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
“Pete Palmer and John Thorn, two of the legendary figures in baseball research, explain why they joined SABR — and why you should, too.”
I joined pretty early; I think I was #27. If I had realized that Cooperstown was only a four-hour drive, I would have been at the kickoff meeting [on August 10, 1971].
Bob Davids was familiar with me since we both contributed to The Sporting News, and the fact that the editors decided to pretty much dispense with fan contributions encouraged Bob to start SABR in the first place. The three main reasons I have enjoyed SABR were meeting the guys, reading the publications and participating in research projects that would have been very difficult to do on my own.
This often involved particularly checking newspapers across the country. As a group, we collected research on 1927 AL caught stealing, 1912 NL sacrifice hits allowed, 1880s AA runs batted in and 1897-1908 batter hit by pitch. John Schwartz, Bob Bailey, Joe Ditmar, Ralph Horton, Bob Richardson, Walt Wilson, Herb Goldman, Joe Simenec, Lyle Spatz and others were very helpful. I worked with Bob McConnell straightening out [John] Tattersall’s home run log before it was computerized, and have corresponded with Frank Williams for over thirty years. Recently, I helped Jonathan Frankel collect batter strikeout data for 1897-1909.
I probably never would have met John Thorn.
I joined SABR thirty years ago, in part to cover that year’s convention in Toronto, on assignment for The Sporting News. Cliff Kachline — at that time the historian of the Baseball Hall of Fame, later SABR’s first executive director, and posthumously, not long ago, a recipient of the society’s Henry Chadwick Award — urged me to join. With my interests in baseball’s history and statistics, he assured me, I would feel instantly at home and would wonder why I had waited so long to join.
He was spectacularly right.
Posted: October 22, 2013 at 12:19 PM | 8 comment(s)
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Good stuff from Colin Wyers here…
Let’s start with the role SABR seems to have taken on: public advocacy for sabermetrics. It has set up the annual analytics conference. It has partnered with Rawlings to try to bring modern defensive metrics into the Gold Glove discussion. It’s easy to see why this approach appeals to SABR. It lets it put its name on the field’s progress on a whole, even where it hasn’t directly contributed to any of it. It doesn’t require any of the actual researchers to change how they go about things, nor does it require SABR to get involved at a more fundamental level.
The question is, is it needed? And I think one has to conclude that it really isn’t. If sabermetrics has a problem these days, it isn’t reach. There is a Brad Pitt movie about how the underdog stats geeks took over the world. There are TV shows that discuss the sabermetric viewpoint. There are websites devoted to espousing sabermetric player measures, and they’re far from obscure. They get cited during actual baseball broadcasts.
And it’s not clear that SABR is particularly well equipped to be the PR arm of the sabermetricians. It’s been a largely private organization for most of its existence; most people know of it through sabermetrics, rather than the other way around. Sabermetricians have a larger following in the media than SABR does.
The last bastion of the old guard in the media is the newspaper writers and the like in the Baseball Writers Association of America. But let’s be honest: they face many of the same demographic challenges that SABR does. With the continuing downward spiral of the newspaper industry and the rise of blogging, the BBWAA is trying to get younger, and it’s turning to writers who grew up with a sabermetric viewpoint. (BP has BBWAA-credentialed writers of its own.) It’s a long road until those sort of people become the majority, but the same is true of SABR, and it’s not at all clear that SABR has figured out how to make that transition smooth for its own organization, much less another.
So if SABR is inserting itself somewhere that isn’t a real area of need for the field of sabermetrics, it can be tempting to conclude that there isn’t a role for it to play. But before we do that, let’s take a look at the problems with the field of sabermetrics and see if there are some that SABR is well suited to correcting.
...As an organization, SABR has been only loosely connected with the development of sabermetrics; most of the important work in the field has been done without it. In terms of preserving the game’s history, though, few have done the kind of work SABR has done. (Even in terms of preserving the history of sabermetrics itself, SABR’s archive of its “By The Numbers” newsletter is probably the single greatest record of the work of sabermetricians not named James or Palmer prior to the dawn of the Internet era.)
SABR is an organization with deep roots in history that needs to find ways to be relevant to the here-and-now to survive. Sabermetrics is a field that’s very relevant now but that has underdeveloped roots in history, both its own and the history of what it studies. The two could complement each other beautifully. It remains to be seen whether or not they will.
Posted: August 14, 2013 at 01:12 PM | 12 comment(s)
Monday, August 05, 2013
It happens every summer. Just like every year for the past 40-plus summers, a group of dedicated baseball nerds gets together for a weekend of baseball talk, socializing, and big heaping gobs of fun with fellow enthusiasts of out national past time. It was time for the annual SABR shindig, and this time we were inflicted upon the city of Philadelphia.
This was my 10th straight time at the annual get-together, and I’ve had a fun time every year. It’s the interest in baseball that first got me to go, but it’s the friends I’ve made that keep me coming back. This is our only real chance to meet up, so that makes it special.
This year’s meeting had a shaky start for me, but when it got going, it was something. Here are some highlights.
Click through to read the highlights.
Posted: August 05, 2013 at 07:20 AM | 31 comment(s)
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