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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fangraphs: The One I Never Thought I Would Write

It’s been a remarkable run. But for me, it comes to an end today. This will be my last post at FanGraphs.

...

But after 10 years, I’m hanging up my virtual pen. Starting next week, I’m going to go begin a new adventure, helping build out a Research and Development department for the San Diego Padres.

Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 10, 2018 at 11:49 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dave cameron, fangraphs, padres

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. I Am Not a Number Posted: January 10, 2018 at 03:25 PM (#5604186)
San Diego 6?
   2. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: January 10, 2018 at 03:27 PM (#5604187)
YOU are numbah six...
   3. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 10, 2018 at 03:35 PM (#5604190)
So Jeff Sullivan takes over as editor in chief of Fangraphs?

No longer the dude is taking such a long vacation.
   4. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: January 10, 2018 at 03:35 PM (#5604191)
"Even I thought no team would ever be stupid enough to hire me."
   5. asinwreck Posted: January 10, 2018 at 03:56 PM (#5604197)
But who is number Preller?
   6. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: January 10, 2018 at 04:04 PM (#5604205)
Wow. Never would have predicted Cameron would get hired by an actual MLB team when I was reading his angry prose circa 2005 on USSM. The guy doesn't seem to play well with others although maybe he's grown out of that.
   7. Private Godfrey Posted: January 10, 2018 at 04:08 PM (#5604209)
Cameron might get a lot of stick for his analytical mis-steps over the years, but he was a good editor, if he is to be held responsible for the content and talent assembled at FanGraphs right now.

I've heard FanGraphs name-checked on the baseball broadcasts I listen to a lot more than BPro during the last decade.

Aaron Gleeman has his work cut out for him.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: January 10, 2018 at 04:15 PM (#5604214)
Step #1: State of the art weight room!

Congrats to Dave.

It will be interesting to see if these statnerd positions are as volatile as most other FO positions. That is, although you never know, Preller has to be on the hot seat and a new GM might want his own head of R&D. It will also be interesting to see if these positions become the same sort of revolving door that many other FO positions are -- i.e. Preller will almost certainly find an assistant GM or similar spot somewhere after he's fired, will the same be true of head nerds?
   9. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 10, 2018 at 05:49 PM (#5604275)
That is, although you never know, Preller has to be on the hot seat and a new GM might want his own head of R&D.

FWIW, Preller signed a three year contract extension a few weeks ago.
   10. PreservedFish Posted: January 10, 2018 at 06:17 PM (#5604288)
I like Fangraphs a lot. Cameron's never been my favorite. He focuses a lot on the economics of the game, which I don't care much about, and he seems rather humorless. But man, I guess I've been reading him for like 15 years at this point. I remember reading his analysis of a prospect named David Wright. If he helped to shape the voice of Fangraphs, then he certainly deserves credit for that.

Fangraphs writers do make hay with all the new stats they have access to. I don't have a good idea of whether or not their work is cutting edge or not, but the website doesn't do many big in depth studies, which BPro still does. At this point we suspect many teams have gone far beyond any free website.

Cameron's not a heavy numbers guy, nor a prospect guy. I guess I'm asking, what value will he bring? Of course I think any organization would benefit from having a house stathead, especially the few remaining old-fashioned ones, but I guess I'm surprised that he's got the skillset to manage a fleet of computer programer researcher types.

That sounds kind of dickish. Sorry.

Best of luck to him.
   11. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 10, 2018 at 06:25 PM (#5604293)
In his interview with Ben Lindberg on Effectively Wild, Cameron acknowledged that he isn't a "quant" guy. He described himself instead as a "communicator." So apparently he's going to interface with different parts of the organization (including coaches and players) to try to improve performance via insights from analytics rather than generate most of those insights himself. Face time with Andy Green during the interview process was part of what convinced him to give it a shot. He emphasized that "player acquisition" was only going to be part of his portfolio of responsibility, which suggests that he'll be doing a lot of work outside what he's done as an internet writer.

   12. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 10, 2018 at 06:35 PM (#5604301)
Meg Rowley, who worked as a writer at Baseball Prospectus, is now the head of Fangraphs. She replaced Paul Swydan just last week; Paul has decided to try his hand at running an independent bookstore in Massachusetts.

Dave Cameron's departure is unrelated to all of this; it just happens to come at this time.
   13. Darren Posted: January 10, 2018 at 06:55 PM (#5604307)
This is a big blow. He was the main draw for me at Fangraphs. He always seemed to be asking the questions I wanted answered and seemed to answer them well. I liked his writing style as well--he wasn't one to get too clever and ruin a good column. This stinks for me personally so it stinks.
   14. DJS, the Digital Dandy Posted: January 10, 2018 at 07:01 PM (#5604308)
Meg's the managing editor the Hardball Times; my arch-nemesis Cistulli will be taking over the e-in-c job FanGraphs, as far as I know.

I can say with certainty that Dave's well-respected around baseball. He'll do well with the Padres if they let him be Dave. He's not a quant type, as he said, but he knows analytics in and out and how to apply them. Applying data is perhaps an even more crucial challenge for a team than developing them.

(Disclaimer: I've known Dave for more than 20 years and we came up together as the young guys in the sabermetrics community, so I no doubt will always have some bias in his favor)
   15. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: January 10, 2018 at 07:20 PM (#5604310)
but he knows analytics in and out and how to apply them. Applying data is perhaps an even more crucial challenge for a team than developing them.


I have a hard time seeing Cameron as a great communicator with jocks but we'll see.
   16. Darren Posted: January 10, 2018 at 08:06 PM (#5604331)
Wow. Never would have predicted Cameron would get hired by an actual MLB team when I was reading his angry prose circa 2005 on USSM. The guy doesn't seem to play well with others although maybe he's grown out of that.


If Keith Law can make that transition...
   17. bookbook Posted: January 10, 2018 at 08:37 PM (#5604344)
I think Dave will be a great success with the Padres. We won’t hear about him much unless he leaves, but I believe in his ability to build/lead a team of smart gals and guys. Fangraphs will miss him.
   18. ReggieThomasLives Posted: January 10, 2018 at 08:51 PM (#5604349)
He focuses a lot on the economics of the game, ...

Cameron's not a heavy numbers guy, nor a prospect guy. I guess I'm asking, what value will he bring?


I think you got it with your first sentence. You can hire numbers guys, you can hire software developers, and you can hire prospect geeks. You hope the guy or gal running your analytics department is a good recruite and a good manager, but they absolutely have to be a good communicator who is able to frame decisions by their benefits and costs. Basically what he's been doing for years with his most valuable players series.
   19. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: January 10, 2018 at 09:22 PM (#5604356)
Cameron's never been a favorite, but I'm always happy when someone from this side of the computer gets a shot at contributing to a real major league team. I'm rooting for him.

What struck me was the comment "... helping build out a Research and Development department for the San Diego Padres." It's 2018. I had assumed every big league organization already has substantial resources portioned out to their analytics guys. It's not like it's expensive or anything. Now I'm wondering about the state of the Padres' analytics staff.
   20. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: January 10, 2018 at 09:47 PM (#5604363)
Cameron's never been a favorite, but I'm always happy when someone from this side of the computer gets a shot at contributing to a real major league team. I'm rooting for him.


Absolutely, this.

It's weird... going back 20 years here, there, elsewhere - and doing little more than complaining and snarking, not being a contributor myself - it's always kind of neat when someone who returned fire and called you (digitally) an idiot in the comments, in e-mails exchanges, etc - gets a job with a team, with the league, or in 'big time' media.

One of those little cool things that I imagine we of this generation (call in gen x) got to experience that no previous generation really did. Between twitter, social media, and whatnot - I imagine it becomes much more commonplace going forward; up-and-comers inevitably have to interact with normal fans a lot lot to gain a following, increase their exposure, etc...

Silly, but I still think it's kind of neat.

Plus - it gives you a great in to impress the barflies when you explain why the current GM is an idiot because you TOLD him, specifically, and still have the disagreement response to prove, way back when that Bobby Estella wasn't all that.
   21. Srul Itza Posted: January 10, 2018 at 10:00 PM (#5604373)
Cameron's not a heavy numbers guy, nor a prospect guy.


And on that note, since this may be the last time I ever get to do this, it's time to fire up the Way Back Machine and remember this blast from the past:


"I guess I should have nominated Cano in the most overrated prospect thread the other day. That he still gets talked up as some kind of top prospect (not pointing at John here, by the way) amazes me.

I’ve seen Cano play a lot, and I’m not even sure he’d be a productive Triple-A player. Let’s start with his defense; it’s brutal. He has terrible footwork and simply lacks any kind of instincts around the bag. There’s no way you want him playing up the middle. He might have the raw speed to not be awful in left field, but that’s about as kind as I can be regarding his glovework. Offensively, he’s a fastball hitter. He sits dead red on every pitch and waits for a mistake. Any good breaking ball or offspeed pitch will have him out in front. He’s mostly a gap hitter, lacking the power to drive the ball consistently over the wall. To add insult to injury, he’s also a terrible baserunner.

In his prime, I think he could hit .280/.320/.400 while playing awful defense. Yipee."
   22. K-BAR, J-BAR (trhn) Posted: January 10, 2018 at 10:09 PM (#5604376)
#7 nails it. He clearly has some talents, even if it's not ranking organization.

Over the years, Cameron seems to have mellowed and learned a little humility. Though maybe that's just because I've listened to the FG podcast where he comes off as pretty self-aware and not humorless. I seem to recall him saying on the podcast more than once that he wasn't sure he had a lot to offer a team. (Maybe that was Carson, though? It sounds like Carson.)

   23. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 10, 2018 at 10:27 PM (#5604385)
His last job was overseeing the statheads who create content for Fangraphs.

Now he'll oversee the statheads who create content for the Padres.

I can see why he was hired.

   24. Meatwad Posted: January 10, 2018 at 11:52 PM (#5604431)
Surl I fully expected dzop to post that.
   25. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 10, 2018 at 11:54 PM (#5604432)
Concur with 19.

Always good to see a basement dweller make good. I just wish he'd left after his 6th year or had to write 6 articles explaining why he is leaving. Maybe he's 6th in line for the decision making process over at SD? One can only hope.
   26. ptodd Posted: January 11, 2018 at 01:27 AM (#5604444)
. I like Daves stuff but it always came across as biased to me in the sense players were not worth what we expect them to be. That seems to be the common theme there and to some extent at MLBTR. Maybe my perception is wrong but thats what it is.

One wonders where MLBPA is in trying to equalize the narrative on players worth. Strangely silent. Really need the players representatives to do better with their case in the media. PR just as important for labor as owners ans labor is MIA. Maybe they should be hiring sabermetric types and bloggers to help like owners do

Anyways, Dave leaving creates a big void at FG which has been struggling with content even with him on board.

Wish him the best since it sounds like his efforts are finally being rewarded.
   27. DJS, the Digital Dandy Posted: January 11, 2018 at 03:39 AM (#5604448)
What struck me was the comment "... helping build out a Research and Development department for the San Diego Padres." It's 2018. I had assumed every big league organization already has substantial resources portioned out to their analytics guys. It's not like it's expensive or anything. Now I'm wondering about the state of the Padres' analytics staff.

They did have someone in that job, who left last year, whose name escapes me at this minute because it's way past my bedtime.

One thing Dave absolutely has demonstrated he can do is assemble a team of analysts and manage a team of analysts.

26: Player-agencies do a lot with analytics and regularly reach out the analytical community as they need things. I've done just as many data jobs for agents as I have for teams (that's all I'm allowed to do, for obvious reasons I haven't been allowed to provide anything but raw, unaided data since 2010). The scope of an individual agent is very deep, but not as broad as it is for teams, so they tend to have small analytics teams and use consultants to fill in the gaps.
   28. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: January 11, 2018 at 08:34 AM (#5604478)
Always good to see a basement dweller make good. I just wish he'd left after his 6th year or had to write 6 articles explaining why he is leaving. Maybe he's 6th in line for the decision making process over at SD? One can only hope.


They play the Braves on June 6th.
   29. Boxkutter Posted: January 11, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5604825)
Now I'm wondering about the state of the Padres' analytics staff.

I would guess California...?

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