Intro to Sabermetrics, Part 1: WTF, etc?

Yes, Mayor McCheese, yes you have...and now all our lives are so much fuller and simpler.

[[Editor’s note: welcome to the first installments of Venuing’s “Get to Better Know You’re Advanced Statistical Measurements.”  Hooray!  Mad ups to brand-new Venuing Voices “Superduperintern” (technical term)  Josh for the assist here.]]

Sabermetrics, for those of you not in the know, is a contemporary analysis of baseball player/team performance using “non-traditional” statistical measures. It is derived from the acronym SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), which then became “saber” because swords are awesome and had “metric” tacked to the end of it to make it sound scientific and European.

According to “sabermetricians” (really?) the statistics most fans are familiar with, things like Winning Percentage, ERA, Batting Average, are not so important. Of far more concern are OPS, LIPS, DIPS, BsR, and a host of other acronyms that this column will eventually work to break down. But really, why should you care?

Baseball is a game of statistics, and sabermetrics is the most in-depth statistical analysis available. Michael Lewis skimmed the surface of it in Moneyball making the general public aware of things like OBP, but there is so much more. And it’s beginning to influence things like MVP and Cy Young voting. Just this past year Chris Carpenter was denied the NL Cy Young Award when two voters (Keith Law and Will Carroll) left him off their ballots based on sabermetrical analysis that Lincecum, Wainwright, and Vasquez were better pitchers.

As we move forward into the brave new world of the 2010 baseball season, an era still rife with paranoia and uncertainty about who is and isn’t juicing, we need something stable to hold on to in terms of how we view and evaluate players. And that something begins with sabermetrics.


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