Lichtman: 10 lessons I’ve learned about defensive statistics

From Mitchel Lichtman at The Hardball Times on May 1, 2014, with mention of SABR members Bill James, Pete Palmer, John Thorn, David W. Smith, Gary Gillette, John Dewan, and Michael Humphreys:

Like many baseball analysts of my generation, my sabermetric interest was inspired by several revolutionary books in the 1980s. Most of you are probably familiar with them. When I was in my 20s, I voraciously read the Bill James Abstracts, the Elias Baseball Analysts, Pete Palmer’s and John Thorn’s The Hidden Game of Baseball, and Craig Wright’s The Diamond Appraised. In the 1990s, I also started to devour a few other publications, like Mike Gimbel’s Player and Team Ratings, and STATS Annual Baseball Scoreboards (as well as the STATS–later Bill James’–Handbooks).

1. The People Behind Retrosheet Are Saints

After whetting my sabermetric appetite with those publications, I began doing a lot of my own research on evaluating offense and defense, spring boarding off the work of many of the original pioneers like James and Palmer. I originally used play-by-play and batted ball location data provided by a volunteer organization of baseball fans and statheads who collected this data at the ballpark and from television broadcasts. The group was originally called Project Scoresheet, then The Baseball Workshop, and now Retrosheet. Some of the founders and principals of these organizations are Sherri Nichols, Dave Smith, and Gary Gillette, along with Pete Palmer, a long-time colleague and collaborator of Gillette. All of us owe a great deal of gratitude to these early data collectors and to those who currently compile and disseminate (for free) the Retrosheet data.

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Originally published: May 1, 2014. Last Updated: May 1, 2014.