Welcome to “This Week in SABR!” Here’s what we’ve been up to as of April 5, 2013:
Please note: SABR.org is undergoing technical maintenance on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6; members may experience difficulty logging in to the website and accessing members-only content during this time. We hope to have everything resolved within 24-48 hours. Thanks for your patience.
Editor’s note: The Diamond Report is a series of monthly messages, written by SABR President Vince Gennaro and Executive Director Marc Appleman, to keep SABR members better informed about the Society’s direction and progress. The Diamond Report archives are collected at SABR.org/diamondreport. Here is Vince Gennaro’s Diamond Report for April 2013:
One of the best things about the SABR Analytics Conference is its focus on the “R” in SABR — research.
True to SABR’s heritage, in two short years we have established the Conference as the premier forum for the exchange of research and ideas on quantitative analysis in baseball. How do I know that to be the case? The 30 MLB teams spend billions of dollars annually on players’ salaries, so they are constantly seeking insights on how to evaluate players, assess their true talent level and quantify the riskiness of a player’s expected performance. To that end, they hire analysts and spend millions of dollars annually on data and technology infrastructure to analyze information in the hopes of making better decisions. These are the right people to validate the quality of the content at the SABR Analytics Conference. Twenty-five MLB teams were represented at the 2013 Analytics Conference and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive from the people who have the most at stake from interpreting, discussing and debating the content we showcased there.
The Analytics Conference is not about getting lost in higher level math, it’s about discussing issues from an analytical, data-oriented perspective. One of the more engaging presentations was by Geoff Miller, the mental skills coach of the Atlanta Braves and the author of Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game – in Baseball and in Life. Miller presented data from his research about personality types and the responses different types of players are likely to exhibit in high stress situations, demonstrating how his work impacts scouting and player development within a big league organization. Ben Jedlovec of Baseball Info Solutions — John Dewan’s company and a provider of data and analysis to teams — presented a study on the “Anatomy of a Batted Ball”. Using his new batted ball timer dataset, Jedlovec examined the likelihood of success on groundballs, based on ball speed, with a special examination of Ichiro Suzuki’s groundball data.
Two presentations focused on game theory, applied to the mental battle between pitcher and hitter. Matt Swartz presented his research about the strategic decisions pitchers and hitters make to optimize pitch selection or in the case of the hitter — the response to pitch selection. Kevin Tenenbaum, a junior at Middlebury College, presented his work (done in collaboration with Dave Allen) focusing specifically on fastball locations in two-strike counts.
Physicist Alan Nathan discussed a variety of topics that draw on PITCHf/x, Doppler radar-based data and other new data sources. His findings covered the impact of temperature and elevation on batted ball distances, the effect of spin on batted ball trajectory and the effect of Coors Field’s humidor on home run production. Graham Goldbeck of Sportvision shared his study on the success of batted balls based on where contact was made (i.e., out in front of the plate vs. at the back of home plate).
Andy Andres presented his work on merging weather data into PITCHf/x and HITf/x to provide context for pitch movement and batted ball performance. Andres, who teaches a sabermetrics course at Tufts University, used historical weather data from weather stations nearest to ballparks to measure its effect on each pitch. My research presentation focused on using graph analytics on detailed PITCHf/x data to cluster pitchers by similarity. By grouping pitchers by factors such as their pitch repertoire, velocity, release point, and pitch sequences we can identify “like” pitchers and place them into clusters, with the goal of augmenting individual batter-pitcher matchup data, with a hitter’s performance against a cluster of pitchers.
Adding to the research climate of the Analytics Conference was the Diamond Dollars Case Competition. Fifty students from 11 colleges and universities came together to present their analyses of what the future holds for the Angels’ Mike Trout. Applying a wide range of statistical tools, aging curves and performance forecasts, the students presented their work to a panel of judges, including baseball operations executives of MLB teams, making for an energetic dialog and a unique window into teams talent evaluation criteria. Student teams from Pepperdine University and the NYU-Tisch School won the graduate and undergraduate competitions, respectively.
Beyond the research presentations, panels such as the Player Development Panel discussed strategies and tools teams use to build the skill set of their minor league talent, while the General Managers Panel shared views among three current GMs — Jed Hoyer (Cubs), Jon Daniels (Rangers) and Rick Hahn (White Sox) — on topics ranging from the role of analytics in a front office to the challenges of finding talent. The Analytics Super Panel with Brian Kenny, Bill James and Joe Posnanski shared perspectives on topics ranging from last season’s AL MVP race to the upcoming Hall of Fame candidates.
It was also exciting to observe the organic flow of ideas from attendees between the Conference sessions. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com came together to decide that the definition of replacement level — an important component of the WAR (wins-above-replacement) stat — should be unified with one common definition. In late March, the two parties subsequently released their new “common ground” definition of replacement level.
The idea for the SABR Analytics Conference was simple: bring the thought leaders of the baseball analytics community together to discuss, debate and share thinking about the pressing issues in baseball. We always believed this could become an important annual baseball event that provides an opportunity to share research and incubate ideas about the game of baseball — an all-you-can-digest research buffet. We hope to build on our foundation as we plan next year’s event.
— Vince Gennaro
Add a championship baseball book to your collection with the newest title in the SABR Digital Library:
Sweet ’60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates
Edited by Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin
Associate Editors: Ron Antonucci, Clem Comly, and Len Levin
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-933599-489
ISBN e-book 978-1-933599-496
340 pages, 75 photos
Sweet ’60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates is the joint product of 44 authors and editors from the Society for American Baseball Research who have pooled their efforts to create a portrait of the 1960 team which pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the last 60 years.
Game Seven of the 1960 World Series between the Pirates and the Yankees swung back and forth. Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning at Forbes Field, the Yankees had outscored the Pirates, 53-21, and held a 7–4 lead in the deciding game. The Pirates hadn’t won a World Championship since 1925, while the Yanks had won 17 of them in the same stretch of time, seven of the preceding 11 years. The Pirates scored five times in the bottom of the eighth and took the lead, only to cough it up in the top of the ninth. The game was tied 9–9 in the bottom of the ninth.
At 3:36, Bill Mazeroski swung at Ralph Terry’s slider. As Curt Smith writes in these pages:
“There goes a long drive hit deep to left field!” said Gunner. “Going back is Yogi Berra! Going back! You can kiss it good-bye!” No smooch was ever lovelier.
“How did we do it, Possum? How did we do it?” Prince said finally, din all around.
Woods didn’t know—only that, “I’m looking at the wildest thing since I was on Hollywood Boulevard the night World War II ended.”
David had toppled Goliath. It was a blow that awakened a generation, one that millions of people saw on television, one of TV’s first iconic World Series moments.
With contributions by: Alan Cohen, Alfonso Tusa, Andy Sturgill, Bob Hurte, C. Paul Rogers, Cary Smith, Charles Faber, Clem Comly, Clifton Blue Parker, Curt Smith, Dan Even, Dan Fields, David Fleitz, Dick Rosen, Donald Frank, Gary Gillette, George Skornickel, Greg Erion, Gregory Wolf, Jack V. Morris, James Forr, Jan Finkel, Jim Sandoval, Joe Schuster, Joe Wancho, Joel Goss, Jorge Iber, Mark Miller, Mike Jaffe, Peter Bauck, Rich Westcott, Rob Edelman, Rodney Johnson, Ron Briley, Rory Costello, Skip Nipper, Stew Thornley, Thomas Ayers, Thomas Van Hyning, Tim Herlich, Warren Corbett.
SABR members, get this e-book for FREE!
- E-book: Click here to download the e-book version of Sweet ’60 for FREE from the SABR Store.
- Paperback: Get a 50% discount on the Sweet ’60 paperback edition for $9.95 (plus shipping) from CreateSpace.
To view all books in the SABR Digital Library, visit SABR.org/ebooks.
SABR members, you should have received an e-mail on Monday, April 1, 2013, with a link to vote online in the 2013 SABR Board of Directors election. The poll will close at 12:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.
All e-mails will come from the address firstname.lastname@example.org; if you wish to add it to a whitelist in your e-mail client, that may help ensure that you will receive the e-mails. You will receive at least two more voting emails between April 1 and May 15 with active voting links.
The only way to vote online is through the link you will receive by e-mail. If you did not receive an e-mail Monday, please contact Jacob Pomrenke at email@example.com to have it resent.
SABR members will vote for President and two Director positions this year, along with three proposed amendment changes to the By-Laws. Details on the By-Laws changes and candidate statements can be found in the 2013 Election Guide, which is available for download here: /about/2013-sabr-board-directors-election.
In 1993, a new long-term committee project was introduced by late SABR founding member Bob McConnell. McConnell’s goal for the American Association History Project was to produce a book-length history of the 19th-Century American Association (1882-1891), its teams and participating cities.
Initially, a great deal of research was conducted under the direction of Bob McConnell, Bob Bailey and Jonathan Dunkle. By the late 1990s, the project stalled and by 2007-08, the Nineteenth Century Committee decided to halt the project indefinitely. Thanks to Joanne Hulbert (collecting the research files), Trent McCotter (scanning the files) and Jacob Pomrenke (uploading the files on the SABR website), the files are now available to all SABR members.
They are collected at SABR.org/research/AA-history-project for future researchers who might be interested in studying the American Association of 1882-1891.
View many other Research Resources at SABR.org/research/resources.
SABR member Frank Ceresi has compiled an all-star lineup of writers and historians to contribute to a new website that launched on Opening Day, March 31, 2013, called The National Pastime Museum.
The online museum is dedicated to sharing the artifacts, history and stories that make up America’s greatest game — baseball. It will regularly feature columns by some of the game’s finest writers, including SABR members Rob Neyer, Paul Dickson, Larry Lester, Bill Ryczek, Gabriel Schechter, Tim Wendel and Jacob Pomrenke, along with Lawrence Hogan, Molly Lawless and a host of guest columnists such as John Holway, Luis Munoz and Stacy Pratt McDermott. The site is edited by Dick Heller, who has covered sports for more than 50 years at the Washington Star, the Miami Herald and the Washington Times.
The site will also showcase rare artifacts that will help tell the story of baseball from its earliest times. Highlights include one-of-a-kind items such as Shoeless Joe Jackson’s game-used Black Betsy baseball bat, a rare copy of Sol White’s History of Colored Baseball, extraordinary photos and illustrations from the nineteenth century, unique and historical Negro League artifacts and more.
Click a link below to read original columns from:
- Larry Lester, “Birth of a Slugger: The Incomparable Josh Gibson”
- Rob Neyer, “Was the Federal League Really a Major League?”
- Bill Ryczek, “The Origins of the Art of Pitching During the 19th Century”
- Jacob Pomrenke, “The Black Sox Scandal: A Cold Case, Not A Closed Case”
- Tim Wendel, “Steve Dalkowski: The Fastest Ever?”
- Gabriel Schechter, “Victory Faust: The First Sports Media Celebrity Creation”
- Paul Dickson, “First Ball”
- Frank Ceresi and Carol McMains, “Sol White’s 1907 History of Colored Baseball“
To view the online museum, visit TheNationalPastimeMuseum.com.
This summer’s SABR 43 convention in Philadelphia, July 31-August 4 at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, promises to be spectacular. Seamus Kearney, Dick Rosen, Peter Mancuso and the rest of the Connie Mack Chapter are working hard to line up guest speakers and panelists for the convention, and we hope you’ll join us in Philly for the 43rd annual convention. Register today at SABR.org/convention.
As we noted last week, SABR’s group block at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is going quickly — if you want a room at the Marriott for the SABR convention, you should book your room now. (Don’t forget to register for the convention, too!) If and when our room block sells out, we’ll set up an overflow hotel nearby and post more information at SABR.org/convention.
SABR has secured an exclusive group rate of $139/night (plus tax) at the Marriott for SABR 43. This is a very low rate for a major hotel in downtown Philadelphia during that time of year. The Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is at 1201 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, just blocks from City Hall , Independence Hall and many other Philadelphia landmarks. Click here to book your room online or call (877) 212-5752. The hotel’s website is www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/phldt-philadelphia-marriott-downtown. Please note that our block of rooms is only available for the nights of July 30 to August 4, 2013.
For more information on SABR 43, visit SABR.org/convention.
With generous funding from The Anthony A. Yoseloff Foundation, Inc., SABR will award up to four scholarships to college students who wish to attend SABR 43 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 31-August 4, 2013. This scholarship will pay for registration, transportation and lodging up to a total value of $1,250.
The objective of this scholarship fund is to encourage high school and college-level student engagement with baseball research and to engender an active interest in baseball and SABR. The Yoseloff scholarship is to assist young researchers who want to attend SABR’s annual convention and to introduce them to fellow SABR members. Through this fund, SABR hopes to inspire future baseball research, expose students to high-quality research and build the research capability of interested students.
Download an application form: Click here to apply for a Yoseloff Scholarship to attend SABR 43 in Philadelphia
Students must be currently enrolled in a high school, college undergraduate or graduate program, and be between 18 and 29 years of age at the time of the conference. Some form of age verification (photocopy of driver’s license, passport, etc.) must be attached to your application.
Submissions must include a brief letter of recommendation from a current high school/college teacher, guidance counselor or a school administrator. For full details on how to apply, download the PDF application form by using the link above.
All applications must be postmarked or e-mailed to Jeff Schatzki at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than April 15, 2013.
Five new biographies were posted as part of the SABR Baseball Biography Project, which brings us to a total of 2,396 published biographies.
Here are the new bios:
- Stan Bahnsen, by John Gabcik
- Tony Cloninger, by David E. Skelton
- Rich Dubee, by Charlie Bevis
- Glenn Tufts, by Charlie Bevis
- Alva “Rip” Williams, by Bill Nowlin
All new biographies can be found here: /bioproj/recent
You can find the SABR BioProject at SABR.org/BioProject.
Scouts book bios now online: In December 2011, we published the first book in the SABR Digital Library, Can He Play? A Look At Baseball Scouts and Their Profession, edited by Bill Nowlin and the late Jim Sandoval. The biographies from that book have now been posted at the SABR BioProject; you can read them online by clicking here. To order the e-book or paperback from the SABR Bookstore or to learn more about the book, click here.
Bios on more than just ballplayers: The ambitious goal of the SABR Baseball Biography Project is to publish a full-life biography of every major league player in history. But SABR members write about a lot more than just ballplayers. In addition, we have pages for Ballparks, Broadcasters, Executives, Managers, Scouts, Spouses, Umpires and a lot more on the BioProject website. You can browse all of these categories at /bioproj/browse. So if you’ve ever thought, “Hey, that person (or ballpark) should get the full BioProject treatment” — write the story and we’ll publish it!
Check out the new Baseball Ballparks Project: The SABR Baseball Biography Project has been accepting/publishing “biographies” of Ballparks for a few years, and we have 39 of them on our website at /bioproj/parks. However, this thing just got real. Ballparks are now its very own PROJECT — the Baseball Ballparks Project, our first official spin-off. The project leader is Scott Ferkovich, who is now in charge of recruiting ballparks articles and publicizing them. Learn more by clicking here.
Get involved! If you’d like to help contribute to the SABR BioProject, visit our BioProject Resources page or read the FAQs section to get started. We’re also looking to expand the BioProject to include all “encyclopedic” articles on baseball-related subjects from past SABR publications or committee newsletters. If you come across an article you think should be included in the SABR “baseball repository” at the BioProject, send a copy or link to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLB.com is currently seeking a stats stringer based in Cleveland, Ohio, to cover the Indians for the 2013 season. Please see the announcement below for details and contact email@example.com if you are interested.
Stats stringers are responsible for digitally scoring games from the MLB ballparks, which provides the data used in the live content applications on MLB.com, including Gameday and MLB.TV, real-time highlights and text alerts, and by our business partners. This is a perfect part-time job for a diligent, responsible employee who happens to be a big baseball fan.
For more details and a list of qualifications required, click here.
We’re pleased to pass along this note from SABR member Dan Schlossberg:
American Queen Steamboat Company will offer SABR members a discount of $375 per person (up to $750 per cabin) plus a $50 on-board credit (up to $100 per cabin) to anyone who books a “Baseball Legends” cruise. The first cruise, St. Louis to Cincinnati on July 20-27, is a 7-night trip that includes a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum, while the second is a 5-nighter, Cincinnati to Pittsburgh on July 27-August 1. Participating personalities are Ron Blomberg, Art Shamsky, Al Clark and host Dan Schlossberg on the first cruise; and Jay Johnstone, Fritz Peterson, Al Clark and host Bruce Campbell on the second cruise.
To receive the discount, SABR members must mention “Sirius XM” when booking.
For details, visit http://www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com/theme/baseball-legends/ or call (888) 749-5280.
We’ve heard your feedback: Some of you have said you look forward to “This Week in SABR” every Friday, but sometimes there are just too many compelling articles and announcements to read every week. We’re not complaining — hey, keep up the great work! — but we know the feeling. So in an effort to make the length of this newsletter more manageable to read, we’ll summarize some of the repeating/recurring announcements in a special “In Case You Missed It (ICYMI)” section of “This Week in SABR”.
Here are some major headlines from recent weeks that we don’t want you to miss:
- SABR members Wayne McDonnell Jr., Marty Appel launching new course on New York Yankees
- Check out Michael Haupert’s list of MLB annual salary leaders, 1874 to 2012
- Get 25% discount on a new MLB.TV subscription for entire 2013 season
- Save the date: 2014 SABR Analytics Conference will be March 13-15 at Hyatt Regency Phoenix
- Pre-order SABR’s new “Memorable Teams in Baseball History” books on the 1964 Cardinals, 1947 Yankees
- Register for Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference, June 13-15 in Newark, NJ
- Register for SABR 43, July 31-August 4 in Philadelphia, PA
- Reviewers needed for SABR 43 research presentation abstracts
All previous editions of This Week in SABR can be found here: /content/this-week-in-sabr-archives.
|William Andresen||Woodbridge, VA||Michael Plunkett||Seattle, WA|
|Bruce Einhorn||West Hills, CA||Mark Prouty||South Boston, MA|
|John Fredland||Dayton, OH||James Reese||Madison Heights, VA|
|Ken Garner||Navarre, FL||Richard Rothwell||Naples, FL|
|David Gordon||Durand, IL||Glenn Schabes||Hinsdale, IL|
|Dave Hall||Shingle Springs, CA||William Shely||St. Charles, IL|
|Ron Hayes||Aurora, CO||Deb Sheren||University Heights, OH|
|Ryan Hewitt||Philadelphia, PA||Grant Sovereign||Houston, TX|
|James Holst||Moraga, CA||Manas Sternschein||Long Beach, NY|
|Dick Huebner||Brea, CA||Ira Stolzenberg||Melville, NY|
|Doug Kern||Bristol, CT||Eric Wayte||Orlando, FL|
|Jim Passey||Santa Rosa, CA||Ira Wolins||Philadelphia, PA|
|Howard Payne||Iselin, NJ||Justin Zubrod||Winnetka, IL|
|Gabriel Perez||Exeter, CA|
Here are the new SABR research committee newsletters published this week:
- Baseball Records: April 2013
Find all SABR research committee newsletters at SABR.org/research.
Here are the chapter meeting recaps published this week:
- Halsey Hall Chapter April 2013 newsletter (Minneapolis, MN)
Visit SABR.org/chapters for more information on SABR regional chapters.
Here is a list of upcoming SABR events:
- April 6: Halsey Hall Chapter book club meeting (Roseville, MN)
- April 6: Forbes Field Chapter spring meeting (Pittsburgh, PA)
- April 6: East Tennessee Chapter meeting (Knoxville, TN)
- April 6: Talkin’ Baseball: Dick Heller (Columbia, MD)
- April 6-7: Copper City Classic vintage baseball tournament (Bisbee, AZ)
- April 7: “The Timeless Story of Johnny Sylvester and Babe Ruth” (Asbury Park, NJ)
- April 8: Larry Dierker Chapter meeting (Houston, TX)
- April 10: Bob Davids Chapter Hot Stove Dinner (Arlington, VA)
- April 10: New York Giants Preservation Society meeting (Surprise, AZ)
- April 11: Bergino: “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched” with Jim Kaplan (New York, NY)
- April 11: “Rare Baseball Films” with Dave Filipi (Columbus, OH)
- April 13: Jackie Robinson celebration at Negro Leagues Museum (Kansas City, MO)
- April 13: Texas Vintage Baseball Game (Waco, TX)
- April 16: Bob Davids Chapter Maryland Hot Stove dinner (Silver Spring, MD)
- April 17: Rocky Mountain Chapter monthly lunch (Denver, CO)
All SABR meetings and events are open to the public. Feel free to bring a baseball-loving friend … and make many new ones! Check out the SABR Events Calendar at SABR.org/events.
Here are some recent articles published by and about SABR members:
- At age 97, the oldest living Brooklyn Dodger, Mike Sandlock, remembers Ebbets Field (New York Times)
- Gary Cieradkowski: Ford Meadows: better than The Babe (The Infinite Baseball Card Set)
- Armin Rosen: 1939 baseball broadcast with Walter Johnson captures a crueler, simpler game (The Atlantic)
- Baseball broadcasts introduce advanced stats, but with caution (New York Times)
- SABR members Peter C. Bjarkman, Stephanie Liscio on “42” panel discussing legacy of Jackie Robinson (Canada.com)
- Larry Granillo: A summary of the late Roger Ebert’s baseball film reviews (Baseball Prospectus)
- George Kirsch: Baseball behind bars during the Civil War (New York Times)
- SABR member Len Levin (“Chairman Mao”!) joins Rhode Island Supreme Court (American Journalism Review)
- Lake Forest grad wins baseball research top prize at SABR Analytics Conference (Chicago Sun-Times)
- T.S. Flynn: A pitcher that saved Peoria baseball (Peoria Journal Star)
- First Hamiltonian in majors didn’t have same impact as Joey Votto (TheSpec.com)
- Aaron Gleeman: Batting Joe Mauer second is a smart Twins move in every way (Minnesota Post)
- Can spring training slugging really predict a breakout season? (Baseball Prospectus)
- Harry Pavlidis: The velocity gainers and losers in Spring Training 2013 (Baseball Prospectus)
- Vince Gennaro: Stats or no stats, a controlled experiment? (Diamond Dollars)
- Graham Womack: How Hall of Famers rank for salary in 2012 dollars (Hardball Times)
- New York Mets ponder costs of Martinez and Santana (New York Times)
- Dan Rozenson: Which pitch types work best at Coors Field? (Baseball Prospectus)
- Paul Dorian: An app that predicts home runs based on weather data (Washington Post)
- Download a free new e-book from the National Archives on the National Pastime (Archives.gov)
Read these articles and more at SABR.org/latest.
All previous editions of This Week in SABR can be found here: /content/this-week-in-sabr-archives. If you would like us to include an upcoming event, article or any other information in “This Week in SABR”, e-mail Jacob Pomrenke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find exclusive Members’ Only resources and information here: http://members.sabr.org
Did you know you can renew your membership at any time? 1- and 3-year SABR memberships are available by clicking “Renew” at http://members.sabr.org. Please also consider a donation to SABR to support baseball research at SABR.org/donate.
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Originally published: April 5, 2013. Last Updated: April 3, 2020.