Greenberg: Stats in 2015 from a sabermetrician’s view

From SABR member Morris Greenberg at The Tufts Daily on March 25, 2015:

Brandon Phillips turned heads this past week with his thoughts on analytics departments.

“I feel like all of these stats and all of these geeks upstairs, they’re messing up baseball, they’re just changing the game,” he said. “It’s all about on-base percentage. If you don’t get on base, then you suck. That’s basically what they’re saying. People don’t care about RBIs or scoring runs, it’s all about getting on base.”

Phillips isn’t alone. Charles Barkley made headlines recently by similarly bashing analytics in basketball. Harold Reynolds has outwardly disregarded analytics for a while now. With ESPN recently publishing “The Great Analytics Rankings,” in which they ranked all 122 front offices across baseball, basketball, football and hockey, there is a question worth examining: What relevance does analytics actually have in sports?

Bill James, often considered the father of sabermetrics, first defined sabermetrics in 1980 as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.” Notice that this definition does not include any mention of statistics or data. The key word is “objective.” We use statistics and data today in order to search for objective knowledge, using unbiased modelling processes with these data to develop advanced statistics. We do this to eliminate as much subjectivity in our analysis as possible.

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Originally published: March 26, 2015. Last Updated: March 26, 2015.