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.