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Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Grammarphobia Blog: Analyzing sabermetrics

Fire Philip Babcock Gove

Q: Should the term “sabermetrics” be reserved for baseball? Although it has “baseball” in its title, the term has been used in basketball for some time and is now entering the world of football.

Despite the etymology of “sabermetrics,” we say yes. We think the term has outgrown its roots, so it can apply to statistical analysis in other sports. In fact, sportswriters and bloggers are already using “sabermetrics” in this broader way.

Lexicographers haven’t caught up to this newer usage, though. That’s no surprise, since “sabermetrics” has only recently made it into dictionaries.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language didn’t include the word until the new fifth edition was published in the fall of 2011.

...We should note that in the broad sense, “sabermetrics” is used with a singular verb (as in “sabermetrics is a valuable tool”). But it’s used with a plural verb when it means the statistics themselves (“his sabermetrics are promising”).

The word played a big role in Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball (2003), which was about the Oakland Athletics’ use of sabermetrics. A film of the same name, as you probably know, was released last year.

No doubt “sabermetrics” will always be strongly identified with baseball. But while we don’t have any statistical analysis to back us up, we’ll bet that dictionary definitions will someday reflect a wider usage that includes other sports.

Repoz Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:43 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. bobm Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:01 AM (#4230009)
"Sabermetrics" should be reserved for fencing. :)
   2. PreservedFish Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:31 AM (#4230016)
But it’s used with a plural verb when it means the statistics themselves (“his sabermetrics are promising”).

Never heard this. Don't like it.
   3. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:14 AM (#4230060)
Q: Should "sabermetrics" be reserved for baseball.

A: Yes, it can apply to other sports.

This blogger spends too much time with spreadsheets in his mother's basement and not enough time watching real conversations.
   4. Ransom Captive Israel Alcantara (GGC) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4230255)
I think athletometrics might be better. But that is mixing Latin and Greek.
   5. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4230284)
I thought the study of advanced basketball stats was referred to as APBRmetrics.

   6. Ransom Captive Israel Alcantara (GGC) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4230357)
I have seen advanced football stats referred to as pframetrics.
   7. Zach Posted: September 08, 2012 at 04:53 PM (#4230376)
I've heard cagermetrics for basketball stats, which is a pretty cool name. Still, I think sabermetrics will end up being the generic term.
   8. Nats-Homer-in-DC Posted: September 09, 2012 at 08:19 AM (#4230826)
Sabermetrics is code for nerd among sports writers. Hence its use to describe basketball dorks, football geeks and hockey dweebs.

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