Friday, November 12, 2010

Old School Stats vs. New School Stats

For those of you who have read my blog in the past you know that I am somewhat middle of the road when it comes to Baseball statistics. Where I look at a player and how he performs on the field and what he means to his team, I also try to stay on top of the new forms of statistical analysis to measure a player's worth. I am finding that in the last few years the new forms of statistical analysis have grown to more influential levels within the baseball writing and blogging fraternity to the point that it seems that the game is being observed through the lens of statistics rather that through the lens of the action on the field. My question is can there be a balance between old school stats and new school stats rather than one being more valuable than another.

I recently read Marc Carig's blogpost today titled Derek Jeter, Gold Gloves and the problem of getting advanced stats into the paper. Carig is the New York Yankees beat writer for the New Jersey Star-Ledger and says that he often finds that he has to alter his baseball writing to reflect the demographic and the medium that he is writing for. I'll let you read his article to get the full effect of what he means. The one part of the post that really got to me was a book that he mentioned that he had read which opened his eyes on the application of newer statistical metrics for baseball analysis. The book is called Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong and is written by The Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts. A. R. Sanderson of the University of Chicago provides the following review of the book:

Led by baseball historian/statistician Bill James and his disciples, and fueled by Michael Lewis's Moneyball (CH, Apr'04, 41-4733), the world of quantitative analysis of sports--on-field strategies, personnel decisions, longitudinal and contemporary comparisons of players--has mushroomed in recent years, especially in baseball. Newspaper sports columns, articles in serious academic journals, and popular books now feed sports-data junkies far better than the sports-talk radio programs do. The present title, a compilation of almost 30 stand-alone chapters, is the latest, and one of the best, of these products for the sports enthusiast. It is sure to stimulate conversations in the stands, create arguments around water coolers, and perhaps settle a few bar bets. Is Barry Bonds better than Babe Ruth? How best to juggle pitchers--starters and relievers--and how much pitching is actually necessary? How does one really measure ERA, determine Gold Glove recipients, factor in the effect of Coors Field (in mile-high Denver) or steroids on performance statistics? How valuable are some owners and managers? What are the economics behind player salaries and ticket prices, payroll caps, the value of a new ball park to a city? These are but a few of the controversial questions that Click et al. tackle in this book, which is a home run for baseball enthusiasts and sabermetrician wannabes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers, all levels. -- A. R. Sanderson, University of Chicago

I'm thankful for Carig for his mentioning this book in his post since I have jokingly told Pete and Justin that I need to pickup "Baseball Metrics for Dummies" to make heads or tails on the multitude of metrics that are out there. Maybe after reading this book I'll be able to see the game from a different point of view. Hopefully I can merge both POV's into a version that will further aid me in my analysis of the game. I'll let you know how I feel about it after I get my hands on the book.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Marc Carig's blogpage
- Click Here for Marc Carig's New Jersey Star-Ledger page on the webpage
- Click Here for the Baseball Prospectus webpage

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