Understanding America’s favorite pastime goes a little deeper than hitting, throwing, catching, fielding, and baserunning. Behind every action and play in baseball is baseball analytics, also referred to as sabermetrics.
For true fans and players of the sport alike, understanding sabermetrics is as essential for the game as the aforementioned tactile skills. After all, baseball itself is a far more complex sport than simply throwing and hitting a ball; the best coaches and players in the game are the ones who utilize analytics in baseball to drive their decisions.
But sabermetrics isn’t a term that the average person has heard of, let alone has an in-depth knowledge of, which is why we wanted to go over what exactly sabermetrics is, where it came from, and how it has impacted the game over time and will continue to do so in the future.
The definition of sabermetrics is first up to the plate.
What is Sabermetrics?
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Sabermetrics is the mathematical and statical analysis of baseball records.” The purpose of sabermetrics is to keep track of a player’s in-game activity as compared to a set and objective measurement. In other words, simple sabermetrics can be understood as a desire to better understand how the game of baseball is played and efforts to find the best and easiest ways to win. These questions are answered through experiential research.
The History of Sabermetrics
Sabermetrics as we know them today started with the Society of American Baseball Research’s Statistical Analysis Committee (where the first half of sabermetrics derives its name from) in the 1970s, with the actual phrase shared with the public in the 1982 “Bill James Baseball Abstract.” The Society of American Baseball Research’s Statistical Analysis Committee was a research group founded by Dick Cramer, Bill James, and Pete Palmer with the goal of searching for objective truths and patterns that exist within baseball and its players.
While the official language used around analytics in baseball has been around 40 years, baseball analytics has been used since the early 20th century to try to understand the sport and better predict game outcomes. In 1906, Hugh Fullerton, a sportswriter, first publicly applied baseball analytics to a World Series game between the White Sox and the Cubs. Based on his studies of both teams that performed, he predicted that the White Sox, who at the time were dubbed “the Hitless Wonders,” would beat the Cubs. Much to everyone’s chagrin, the Sox did in fact beat the Cubs. In 1910, Fullerton published an article in The American Magazine titled, “The Inside Game: The Science of Baseball” which went over his study of batted balls.
Over the next several decades, other players in baseball analytics contributed to its popularity. F.C Lane, editor-in-chief of Baseball Magazine for almost 30 years, claimed that a player’s batting average wasn’t indicative of their overall performance, which was the standard ranking tool of the early 1900s. Other influential voices who changed the way analytics in baseball was used were Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, Alan Roth, George Lindsay, Earnshaw Cook, Lou Gorman, and Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame.
How Simple Sabermetrics Changed Baseball
Sabermetrics used analytics in baseball to forever change the game. With the help of simple sabermetrics, teams can:
- Use previous data to make predictions on game results and player performance
- Analyze on-field player performance by recording and studying data collected
- Aid in coaching, trading, and other important decisions in the game by using insights gleaned from data on scouting prospects, player performance, and matchups
Before sabermetrics was widely used, the ‘standard’ ways to measure a player’s progress weren’t objective. Now, analytics in baseball can more clearly track that progress and help to make more accurate predictions.
Simple sabermetrics is an incredible tool that has allowed what was previously thought of as unmeasurable to become just that: something that can be quantified. With over 100 years of finetuning and advancing, there is still so much that sabermetrics can be used for and will continue to impact and alter the ways in which the game is played, players are scouted, teams are managed, and coaches coach.To get the most out of your players and their skills, make sure that they’re equipped with the best gear in the industry. Shop at Headbanger Sports today for all your baseball needs.
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