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Sabermetrics is the term for the empirical analysis of baseball, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the Society for American Baseball Research. It was coined by Bill James, who is one of its pioneers and is often considered its most prominent advocate and public face.[1]

General principles[edit]

The Sabermetric Manifesto by David Grabiner (1994)[2] begins:

Bill James defined sabermetrics as "the search for objective knowledge about baseball." Thus, sabermetrics attempts to answer objective questions about baseball, such as "which player on the Red Sox contributed the most to the team's offense?" or "How many home runs will Ken Griffey hit next year?" It cannot deal with the subjective judgments which are also important to the game, such as "Who is your favorite player?" or "That was a great game."

It may, however, attempt to settle questions, such as, "Was Willie Mays faster than Mickey Mantle?" by establishing several possible parameters for examining speed in objective studies (how many triples each man hit, how many bases each man stole, how many times he was caught stealing) and then reaching a tentative conclusion on the basis of these individual studies.

Sabermetricians frequently question traditional measures of baseball skill. For instance, they doubt that batting average is as useful as conventional wisdom says it is because team batting average provides a relatively poor fit for team runs scored.[3] Sabermetric reasoning would say that runs win ballgames, and that a good measure of a player's worth is his ability to help his team score more runs than the opposing team. This may imply that the traditional RBI (runs batted in) is an effective metric; however, sabermetricians also reject RBI, for a number of reasons. Rather, sabermetric measures are usually phrased in terms of either runs or team wins. For example, a player might be described as being worth 54 offensive runs more than a replacement-level player at the same position over the course of a full season, as the sabermetric statistic VORP can indicate.

Early history[edit]

Sabermetrics research began in the middle of the 20th century. Earnshaw Cook was one of the earliest researchers of sabermetrics. Cook gathered the majority of his research into his 1964 book, Percentage Baseball. The book was the first of its kind to gain national media attention,[4] although it was widely criticized and not accepted by most baseball organizations.

While playing for the Baltimore Orioles in the early 1970s, Davey Johnson used an IBM System/360 at team owner Jerry Hofberger's brewery to write a FORTRAN baseball computer simulation, and using the results unsuccessfully proposed to manager Earl Weaver that he should bat second in the lineup. He wrote IBM BASIC programs to help him manage the Tidewater Tides, and after becoming manager of the New York Mets in 1984 arranged for a team employee to write a dBASE II application to compile and store advanced metrics on team statistics.[5]


Notable proponents[edit]


Popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lewis, Michael M. (2003). Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-05765-8. 
  2. ^ Grabiner, David J. "The Sabermetric Manifesto". The Baseball Archive. 
  3. ^ Jarvis, J. (2003-09-29). "A Survey of Baseball Player Performance Evaluation Measures". Retrieved 2007-11-02. 
  4. ^ a b Albert, James; Jay M. Bennett (2001). Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game. Springer. pp. 170–171. ISBN 0-387-98816-5. 
  5. ^ Porter, Martin (1984-05-29). "The PC Goes to Bat". PC Magazine. p. 209. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Kipen, D. (June 1, 2003). "Billy Beane's brand-new ballgame". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 2, 2007. 
  7. ^ a b Neyer, Rob (November 5, 2002). "Red Sox hire James in advisory capacity". Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  8. ^ Shanahan, M. (May 23, 2005). Retrieved November 2, 2007 His numbers are in the ballpark The Boston Globe
  9. ^ "Bill James, Beyond Baseball". Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg. PBS. June 28, 2005. Retrieved November 2, 2007. 
  10. ^ Ackman, D. (May 20, 2007). "Sultan of Stats". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 2, 2007. 
  11. ^ Jaffe, C. (October 22, 2007). "Rob Neyer Interview". The Hardball Times. Retrieved November 2, 2007. 
  12. ^ Lewis, M. Moneyball. pp. 58–63. 
  13. ^ "Baseball Prospectus". Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  14. ^ Baseball Between the Numbers. 2006. ISBN 0-465-00596-9. 
  15. ^ Goldman, Steven (2007). It Ain't Over 'til It's Over. ISBN 0-465-00285-4. 

External links[edit]