From Doug Miller at MLB.com on April 17, 2012:
The red dots covered Dave Cameron’s legs. The purplish bruises crawled up his arms.
Cameron hadn’t thought much about them. As one of the baseball world’s most respected statistical analysts at the age of 29, he knew his data. The data said they were easily explained. Quick calibrations had spat out the results: regular blemishes brought on by the swampy, inescapable July heat in North Carolina; the swollen handiwork of the mega-mosquitoes he had battled ever since moving from crisp Seattle all those years ago; simple war wounds from the pointy corners and duct-tape-hewn sides of the boxes he’d been lugging while banging into the walls of the house into which he and his wife, Amy, had just moved.
Cameron’s data was made of iron. His data had never let him down.
On July 25, 2011, the doctors gave him the numbers: the white-blood-cell count of 48,000, the 8.5 hemoglobin, the 23,000 platelets. They told him that the average age of a person who gets acute myeloid leukemia, which attacks the bone marrow in the human body, is 68. Less than 1,000 people under the age of 30 are diagnosed with it each year.
And then Dave heard the most important number, the one no man, especially one who had built a career based on statistical projections, could run from.
There was a 60 to 70 percent probability it would kill him within five years.
By July 2011, Dave had become the managing editor of a leading statistical analysis site, FanGraphs.com, and was writing for ESPN.com and the Wall Street Journal. He was appearing on radio shows regularly. USSMariner was as popular as ever. He had done what he’d always wanted; he’d taken his obsession with baseball and its numerical intricacies and built a full-time career from it.
And then, Dave and Amy were on that gold sofa, Dave’s legs covered in red and purple, and they were crying and didn’t have any numbers, data, or earthly clue to determine how much time they’d really have left.
- Listen to our SABR Analytics “Clubhouse Confidential” panel with Dave Cameron, Jay Jaffe, Rob Neyer and Vince Gennaro (March 16, 2012)
- Listen to Dave Cameron’s SABR Analytics Conference research presentation on “Pitching Injuries and the Free Agent Market” (March 17, 2012)
Originally published: April 17, 2012. Last Updated: April 17, 2012.