Q&A with new Chicago Cubs saberist Tom Tango

From Jon Greenberg at ESPN.com on January 30, 2013:

On Monday, the advanced statistics-loving community of Chicago Cubs fans got a welcome surprise when noted “saberist” Tom Tango announced he was working exclusively for the Cubs. In a post titled Psst…wanna work for the Cubs (and with me)?” Tango noted the Cubs were looking for a Director of Research of Development in Baseball Operations and dropped that “I am now providing my consulting services exclusively the Cubs.”

The Cubs confirmed the hire to ESPNChicago.

The move from writer to team employee is not uncommon in the baseball world (baseball writer Kevin Goldstein joined the Houston Astros as pro scouting coordinator recently).

Tango (a pseudonym) is Canadian-born and lives in New Jersey. He has consulted for several Major League teams and has written for ESPN.com, the Hardball Times and many other outlets, including his popular blog. He created the very popular statistics wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average) and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and co-authored “The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball.”

He’s kind of a big deal.

As someone who wants to learn about advanced statistics, I thought it would be interesting to touch base with the Cubs’ not-so secret weapon.

So I e-mailed him (three times) some questions about his role (which he mostly ignored for contractual reasons) and for the blissfully ignorant, some questions about his work and the role of advanced stats in baseball. There has been slight editing for grammar and spelling, but I kept my lame questions intact and in order.

You’re Internet famous and front office famous, but most fans don’t know Tom Tango from Jose Lambada. How did you get your start in analytics? Why devote so much time to this?

Tom Tango: I’ve been fascinated with numbers since as far as I can remember. I started following MLB, NHL, WHA, and CFL in the late 1970s, I read an article about Pete Palmer’s Linear Weights in a Baseball Digest when I was a teenager, read his The Hidden Game, absorbed by Bill James’ Baseball Abstracts, played plenty of rotisserie/fantasy games in my 20s. Throw in majoring in computer science, with plenty of probability and stats classes, and, well, I’m lucky that I’ve been able to intersect the things I like into a vocation.

Read the full article here: http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/14619/qa-new-cubs-saberist-tom-tango

Originally published: January 30, 2013. Last Updated: January 30, 2013.