2013 SABR Analytics: Clubhouse Confidential Panel

The SABR Analytics Clubhouse Confidential Panel on March 8, 2013, included panelists who appear regularly on MLB Network’s signature sabermetrics program, “Clubhouse Confidential.” The panel included Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, Rob Neyer of Baseball Nation, SABR President Vince Gennaro and MLB Network host Brian Kenny.

Here are some highlights:


  • Cameron: “As long as we’re not PED testing, you have to take Barry Bonds. A .600 on-base percentage for a pretty good stretch? As long as we’re dealing with an era where he’s not getting suspended, I’ll take Barry Bonds.”
  • Gennaro: “I would probably say Ted Williams. I would take the offensive force and deal with the rest of it around him, and not worry about the complete player, the defensive player, and so forth.”
  • Neyer: “You could make a great case for Willie Mays. But during Mays’ career, he was not universally thought of in that way. He was often regarded as a reason not for the Giants’ success but a reason for the Giants’ failures. … Mays was not considered a reliable player or a team player by many of the people who followed his career closely in the 1960s. … But he was probably, on balance, the greatest player over a 15-year period. … Nobody ever talks about how much better the National League was than the American League then. In the Mantle-Mays comparison, nobody ever talks about that.”


  • Cameron: “I think the variable we can’t really know is how much money is the new ownership going to be able to commit if the fans don’t show up. We’ve seen teams do this kind of thing before, where they tear it down to the ground and get a bunch of prospects, and they say, ‘In 5 years, we’re going to spend.’ Then they average 15,000 fans a game and the owners say, ‘No, we’re going to cut payroll instead.’ “
  • Gennaro: “Even if they sustain the course … when you look at the Angels, you look at Texas, you look at the resourcefulness of the A’s … and the fact that Seattle has to be on the uptick by then … in all seriousness, I think the vision is such that it doesn’t lend itself to that [in the AL West.]”


  • Neyer: “The funny thing is, if they win, people will say, ‘Oh look, it works. It’s all that chemistry and grittiness.’ But all the players they got are really good. They didn’t get worse, numbers-worse. Yeah, you’d like to have Trevor Bauer, but you know how many starting pitchers they have who could start for anybody? Eight or nine. They’re not less talented than they were. So they have this great advantage if they win, and they can say, ‘Oh, look how smart we were.’ But it might just be that talent works.”
  • Cameron: “It seems to me that it’s almost cool now on Twitter to make fun of players who hustle, when hustle is inherently not a bad thing. I think we’ve associated the Willie Bloomquists of the world as guys who get all this credit for hustling and they’re terrible. But if a guy is good and he hustles, that’s great! That’s the best of both worlds.”
  • Gennaro: “When you’re trading a player like Justin Upton, you’re doing it in context. It wasn’t going to work there. You can say the same thing about (Trevor) Bauer. I think the analytic community gives a little less attention to the 23rd, 24th, 25th guys on the roster. And when I talk to people in the game, I’m realizing the emphasis and the value they put on the guys who get 175 plate appearances a year and also play the eighth and ninth innings. It’s just not something that’s on our radar as much. And I think a team like the Diamondbacks are really focusing on that more.”


  • Gennaro: “To me, the most exciting plays in football are the coaches’ challenges. They’re riveting. And I think we’re going to see in baseball one to two challenges per game. There are plays that will be ineligible, but that’s where I hope it will go.”
  • Cameron: “You like that? I hate it. I hope for the exact opposite. … Why we’re getting fair-foul calls wrong is silly, I think (incorrect) home run calls are silly. I think there are things we can do to improve the obvious (errors.) But I think ball-strike calls are here to stay.”
  • Neyer: “Fifty years ago, an umpire misses a call and no one would have seen it. There would have been no photo, it wouldn’t have been mentioned anywhere. You could get away with anything as an umpire. … You can’t do those things anymore. The easier it is for fans to see it, the harder it is for baseball to tolerate it.”

For more coverage of the 2013 SABR Analytics Conference, visit SABR.org/analytics.

Originally published: February 20, 2013. Last Updated: July 27, 2020.