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Sabermetrics- Overated in baseball or the new standard

Updated on June 2, 2012

Baseball stats become important from your first game on

My 4 yr. old grandson's first baseball game.
My 4 yr. old grandson's first baseball game.

Baseball is leaving the human factor behind

Baseball has always been dominated by statistics, batting averages, earn run avg., an other such stats have been a part of the game. As a coach myself for many years, I looked at team chemistry, on-base percentages, and how a player responded in the clutch. Baseball trend is to coach and run a team by the numbers, leaving the human factor behind. Sabermetric fanatics believe that you can predict the outcome of any game or what a player will do in a certain situation. If you disagree with what they're saying you don't understand baseball as well as they do or else they claim you're an uninformed fan.

Bill James started this Sabermetric movement in the early 80's, claiming that by using complicated data you can predict every outcome. They also believe that you can predict a players future worth so when a player hits a down trend it's time to let him go. Johnny Damon was a good example, Boston let him go because of back to back down trend years yet, Damon made several playoff runs with the Yankees and Rays, while Boston hasn't been able to get past the first round. It takes the human factor or clutch play out of the equation.

The numbers guru's don't believe that clutch hitting exist, sitting a their computer crunching numbers would have had guys like Reggie Jackson on the bench. Reggie was a below avg. fielder, struck out too much yet come playoffs "Mr. October" would come to life with multiple home run games and clutch hitting.

If you've ever played the game yourself, you'll understand baseball is full of streaks and trends, you can use whatever numbers or stats it takes to prove your point, yet game in game out your still the same player. I was watching the Rays play the Bluejays last night, Carlos Pena had only hit .115 in the month of May so the coach moved him up to lead-off batter. Sabermetrics would say bench him or bat him 9th in the lineup, however he snapped his cold streak and hit a 3run homer in the 6th inning giving them a 6-0 lead.

Well lets get into some sabermetrics basics and let you decide for yourself. For me it's a no-brainer, I still like the old style of baseball, the clutch and human factors of the game. Stats are great for trends or to boost egos but the game is about out scoring the team your playing today. I'll take an old coach or scout that has been around the game his whole life over some computer nerd sitting in an office crunching numbers, any day.

What is Sabr-metrics

SABR- stands for the Society for American Baseball Research, and sabermetrics was a phrase coined by baseball researcher and author Bill James. James and others created new stats to measure a players productivity, and used to measure a players future value. These stats are used to measure a players value and take the human elements out of the equation. There are stats for almost any situation that may occur in a normal baseball game, most baseball fans have heard some mentioned during a game such as WAR(wins above replacement) or FIP(fielding independent pitching), yet how many of us really know what they are talking about anyway.

Here are some of the more common sabermetric terms

BABIP: Batting avg. on balls in play. It's the frequency that a batter reaches a base after putting the ball in play(It's a good measure of the hitters a pitcher face)

ERA+: Earned run avgerage adjusted for the ball park and league avg.

FIP: Fielding independent pitching.

IR: Inhertied runs, is the number of runners that scored while a relief pitcher was in the game.

ISO: Isolated power, is a measure of a hitter's raw power- extra bases at-bat.

OPS: On-base percentage+slugging percentage.

UZR: Ulimate zone rating. This is a complex grid system with the field divided into 64 pieces to determine a players fielding ability.

WAR: Wins above replacement. It's the number of wins that a player contributes above what a replacement level, hitter, fielder or pitcher would have done.

WHIP: Walks and hits per innings pitched.

What does any of this really mean

Lets take WAR- Wins Above Replacement, mostly because this is one more people can understand. WAR is a stat that combines all aspects of a player's value in terms of wins for his team. There are several sites and think tanks out, all have different methods or variations of WAR but they all share some criteria.They are basically comparing the production you can get from a player to the production a team can get from a player paying the league minimum. These are the guys playing AAA, or are bouncing around on wavier wires.

FanGraphs, Baseball Projection, and others all use different formulas for similar results, all are math based stats allowing for park-adjustments, league adjustments and take offense and defense into the equation. For an average player it's usually 2-3 wins, a star player could get you 6 or more wins depending on how it's calculated. Sabermetric guru's had Justin Verlander at 4-6 WAR after last years all-star break, depending on whom you listen to last year, it's hard to believe that a AAA ball player could have even won half the games he did last year.

Personally if you look hard enough at stats you can find one to justify almost any decision. People that back sabermetrics,think they know best and if you don't agree with them it's because you don't understand baseball. I played ball til I was 40, coached 20 seasons, and managed to put 18 of 20 into the playoffs, won 2 titles, none of them with sabermetrics. I think it's time that we return baseball to the way it was meant to be played. Team chemistry, clutch hitting, heart, old fashion hard work, and putting the human factor back into America's game.


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