What’s Sabermetrics?

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Sabermetrics is an objective method of analyzing baseball performance through statistics, coined by Bill James. It measures runs scored, on base percentage, and individual value. Sabermetrics has introduced many statistics into mainstream usage and has found followers among high-level baseball coaches and statisticians. It underestimates the usefulness of traditional statistics such as batting average.

Sabermetrics is a method for objectively analyzing baseball performance through statistics. The study is based on the collection of records to develop conclusions and make predictions about players, teams and performances. Unlike batting average and other more traditional baseball statistics, sabermetrics is based on the measurement of runs scored, on base percentage, and individual value.

The term sabermetrics was coined by Bill James, a well-known baseball historian and statistician. Derived from the acronym SABR, from the Society of American Baseball Research, sabermetrics is an attempt at a system to determine which statistics are useful for which purposes. Throughout its history it has introduced many statistics into mainstream usage, such as: WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) and OPS (on base plus slugging).

Sabermetrics famously derived a new method for determining a player’s value to one’s team, through, for example, Base Runs (BsR), the number of runs a team should have scored; Late Inning Pressure Situations (LIPS), at bats after the sixth inning in games closer by three runs; and speed score, a value of a player’s speed using stolen bases, doubles, triples, and runs scored.

Most advocates of sabermetrics underestimate the usefulness of statistics such as batting average, because they believe it is a poor indicator of a team’s success. A player with a high batting average, a proponent of sabermetrics might argue, might have fewer runs scored and even fewer runs batted in (RBI), and thus would not have helped his team win many games.

It is through stats like this that sabermetrics has found followers among many at the highest levels of baseball. Theo Epstein, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, hired Bill James to work for the team, becoming the first major market team to publicly support the principles of sabermetrics. Billy Beane, hired as general manager of the Oakland Athletics in 1997, used sabermetrics statistics to evaluate talent, keeping a low-market team in high competition with players who have traditionally been undervalued using traditional statistics.

From Bill James’ Annual Baseball Statistical Reports, in wide circulation since 1977, the study has found followers among many coaches, writers, historians, and statisticians. With the prospect of objectively discovering who was more valuable to your team, Willie McCovey or Lou Brock, Mickey Mantle or Jimmie Foxx, sabermetrics opened a new door for statistical analysis in the game of baseball.

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