Thorn: Bullpenning, sabermetrics, and revenge of the nerds

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on November 13, 2017:

There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear … but baseball is changing, on the field, in the front office, and in the stands. Teams are acting more effectively than ever in their pursuit of talent and their goal of victory. The players are better than ever, in all aspects of the game. But is the game itself better — or at least as enjoyable as it was when we first fell in love with it?

Baseball is a lot like life, only more so. It is affected by trends in the larger society, sometimes lagging and other times taking the lead … with business and popular culture both taking a cue from this silly little game of ours. In its relentless pursuit of perfection baseball sometimes takes a detour into mere novelty, or unconscious recapitulation of formerly discarded ideas.

But most often in baseball, evolution plays out more rapidly than in real time … as in time-lapse photography: Darwin’s theory writ small. And “survival of the fittest” can produce brutish outcomes: who would argue that we are better off today for having one species of horse where formerly we had one hundred?

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Originally published: November 13, 2017. Last Updated: November 13, 2017.