From Neil Paine at FiveThirtyEight.com on April 16, 2014, with mention of SABR members Bill James and Rob Neyer:
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the 67th anniversary of Robinson eradicating baseball’s color barrier. The eponymous event, which fills baseball fields with the spectacle of countless players sporting No. 42, is a great reminder of Robinson’s legacy. It’s also a prime occasion to remind people that — despite his legendary small-ball artistry — yes, sabermetrics thinks he was an awe-inspiring ballplayer, too.
The topic recalls a great Rob Neyer post from more than a decade ago. Writing during the height of baseball’s culture wars (“Moneyball” had been published a month earlier), Neyer attacked the notion that sabermetrics wouldn’t have appreciated the skills of Robinson and other speedy African-American players (such as Rickey Henderson, whose playing style and tremendous value made him, in many ways, Robinson’s spiritual descendant).
“You can accuse Bill James and sabermetrics of many things, but you cannot accuse them of not appreciating Jackie Robinson and Rickey Henderson,” Neyer wrote. “Those two brilliant players — not to mention Joe Morgan and Willie Mays and Cool Papa Bell and Barry Bonds, and hey let’s not forget Henry Aaron and Frank Robinson and Tony Gwynn and Eddie Murray — could play for any general manager.
“If you think that sabermetrics doesn’t have a place for them,” he continued, “then you don’t understand sabermetrics. Because there’s not yet been a sabermetrician born who wouldn’t drool at the thought of Rickey Henderson and Jackie Robinson at the top of his imaginary lineup.”
Read the full article here: http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/advanced-stats-love-jackie-robinson/
Originally published: April 16, 2014. Last Updated: April 16, 2014.