Lindbergh: The softer side of sabermetrics

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at on August 19, 2014:

Last Saturday, on the first morning of the fourth annual “Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball” seminar in Boston (“Saber Seminar” for short), Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow strode onto the auditorium stage at BU’s School of Management. A few hours later, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington would stand in the same spot sporting designer jeans, but Luhnow, a former management consultant who dresses down so rarely that it was surprising to see him accept the Ice Bucket Challenge in something other than a suit, looked like he’d just stepped off the set of Up in the Air and had come to compare rewards cards.

Luhnow, who broke into the industry with the Cardinals in 2003 and jumped to Houston in late 2011, lacks the baseball background and the leathery, sun-toughened skin of, say, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, who pitched in the minors for eight seasons and scouted for several more. Luhnow is, or once was, an outsider, living the life on the inside that some in the Saber Seminar crowd hope to gain. Yet even in front of a roomful of Internet quants and analytics enthusiasts — an audience more philosophically attuned than most to the Astros’ recent commitment to intelligent losing — Luhnow deviated from the traditional sabermetric script.

“I’m not going to talk about the Astros’ analytical approach, because that has been well-documented,” Luhnow said. “I thought what would be insightful to talk about, or for you all to hear about, is a little bit more on the softer side.”

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Originally published: August 19, 2014. Last Updated: August 19, 2014.