Welcome to the first meeting of SA. I'm Kyle and I'm addicted to sabermetrics.
I'm curious to hear how everyone got crunk on stats.
For me, sabermetrics can be summed very simply: in the form of the serenity prayer.
God grant the ability to accept the things that cannot be changed (luck), courage to change the things that can (skill) and the wisdom to know the difference (sample size).
If ever there is a happy place where stats meet scouting, I try to live in that place. Baseball, though less dynamic than say football or basketball, is still a game of people with slumps, emotions and a human element with other psychological and physical factors that come into play beyond just talent. Games, after all, are not played on paper.
Nonetheless, sabermetrics have fascinated me. They've awakened me to the game in ways I'd never considered. Allow me, if you will, to share my own personal perspective. I'll share my story in the chronological form of a typical 12-stepper.
1. Admit that we have a problem
When I first heard of this new movement, here at Redszone about 4 years ago, actually, I likened it to a cult. It was radical, creepy and the followers clung to their beliefs like white on rice.
I mean really... telling me batting average wasn't the most indicative measurement of hitting ability? Why don't you just tell me Santa Claus doesn't exist while you're at it?
At the behest of Cyclone suggesting to someone, in all things an Adam Dunn debate, that they run correlation of Runs Created to actual runs scored, I was tempted to do the same. I'm always up for a spreadsheet project, and I never have anything important to do anyhow.
I tested 15 seasons of data. And lord have mercy my eyes were astonished.
OK. So perhaps batting average isn't the most important thing...
Suddenly, my resolve was shaken. Doors were opened to new concepts.
Speed wasn't all that important at the top of the order. Clutch hitting may not exist. Pitchers don't have much control of the ball after it makes contact with the bat. Adam Dunn is the most polarizing figure since Abe Lincoln. Murphy's law applies to baseball - what goes up must come down.
I was familiarized with a new secret language.
Regression to the mean. Strawman arguments. True talent level. Luck. Skill. Out machine.
I learned the alphabet soup of new stats and that AARP is not just for old people, but probably some kind of Baseball Prospectus measurement.
I slowly started to fully embrace many of these concepts. Well, I still believe in clutch hitting. I think in life there are some that display an ability to perform better under pressure than others, and they're not always the same ones performing at a high level under ordinary circumstances. That said, the trick is being able to quantify such a broad ideal. But I digress.
I began learning more about these stats and started making amends with the lunatics I dismissed as spreading a bunch of mumbo jumbo. OK, so really that involved only one friend that had already been talking about these weird stats. But I did fess up to him that I started thinking there was more to his crazy ways than I'd previously led on.
But now, for the past year, I've been in full step-12 mode of recovery - or as I see it - enlightenment.
In all seriousness, I'm curious how people came to learn about sabermetrics, what they think of them philosophically and how they apply them to the game.
I still believe in things like batting average. I still believe a strikeout is bad. I still like speedy guys with good bat control. But my approach has changed thanks to a better (not perfect) understanding. Now I know on-base percentage is more important. Strikeouts can be tolerated with power and speed is good but again, getting on base is key.
Sabermetrics is kind of like a library. It can be a wealth of information and could help you in a variety of ways - but is more valuable a resource if you know what you're looking for. Like my SABR buddy RedsManRick says... it really depends what you're trying to accomplish. Measure performance? Determine skill? Compare abilities or production? Or determine likely results in a predictive sense? It's a smorgasbord of possibilities.
Look forward to your testimonies and thanks to my unknowing sponsor, cyclone (ha ha).