The Sabermetric Revolution

The Sabermetric Revolution: Assessing the Growth of Analytics in Baseball

BENJAMIN BAUMER
ANDREW ZIMBALIST
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1njg
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  • Book Info
    The Sabermetric Revolution
    Book Description:

    From the front office to the family room, sabermetrics has dramatically changed the way baseball players are assessed and valued by fans and managers alike. Rocketed to popularity by the 2003 bestsellerMoneyballand the film of the same name, the use of sabermetrics to analyze player performance has appeared to be a David to the Goliath of systemically advantaged richer teams that could be toppled only by creative statistical analysis. The story has been so compelling that, over the past decade, team after team has integrated statistical analysis into its front office. But how accurately can crunching numbers quantify a player's ability? Do sabermetrics truly level the playing field for financially disadvantaged teams? How much of the baseball analytic trend is fad and how much fact?

    The Sabermetric Revolutionsets the record straight on the role of analytics in baseball. Former Mets sabermetrician Benjamin Baumer and leading sports economist Andrew Zimbalist correct common misinterpretations and develop new methods to assess the effectiveness of sabermetrics on team performance. Tracing the growth of front office dependence on sabermetrics and the breadth of its use today, they explore how Major League Baseball and the field of sports analytics have changed since the 2002 season. Their conclusion is optimistic, but the authors also caution that sabermetric insights will be more difficult to come by in the future.The Sabermetric Revolutionoffers more than a fascinating case study of the use of statistics by general managers and front office executives: for fans and fantasy leagues, this book will provide an accessible primer on the real math behind moneyball as well as new insight into the changing business of baseball.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0912-9
    Subjects: Statistics, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Revisiting Moneyball
    (pp. 1-22)

    Michael Lewis’s 2003 bestselling bookMoneyballhas sold well over a million copies. The 2011 movieMoneyballhas exceeded $120 million in box-office sales and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including best actor and best picture. It is safe to assume that the story that Michael Lewis fell in love with back in 2002 has been widely assimilated by people who care about baseball as well as by many who don’t. The book was a significant catalyst in spreading the sabermetric gospel in baseball front offices, as well as feeding the growing popularity of sports analytics over the Internet,...

  5. 2 The Growth and Application of Baseball Analytics Today
    (pp. 23-37)

    We have called into question many of the assertions made inMoneyball,and examined their veracity with the benefit of hindsight. Nevertheless, the impact thatMoneyballhas had on the baseball industry is seismic, and undeniable. The book has been massively influential within front offices from coast to coast, and has been an important catalyst for the explosion of data and analytics currently roiling the larger sports world. In this chapter, we will examine the current state of analytics in baseball, and illustrate the role thatMoneyballhas played in bringing us to this point.

    Lewis makes it clear that...

  6. 3 An Overview of Current Sabermetric Thought I: Offense
    (pp. 38-56)

    In the next two chapters we will present an overview of the current state of baseball analytics, while making careful attempts to compare the current results to those that were mentioned inMoneyball.Our emphasis is on exposition, in that we will attempt to explain and justify the basics of sabermetric theory to the reader. Although much lies beyond the scope of what we can accomplish here, a thorough reading should give the interested reader a firm grasp of how sabermetricians think about the game, and demystify some important results that are mentioned in passing in bothMoneyballand the...

  7. 4 An Overview of Current Sabermetric Thought II: Defense, WAR, and Strategy
    (pp. 57-84)

    In this chapter we first turn our attention to how sabermetricians have approached the analysis of defense in baseball and then focus on unresolved issues in sabermetric thought. As we will see, for a variety of reasons, the accurate measurement of player contributions on the defensive side has proven far more elusive to sabermetricians than the corresponding offensive components.

    Bill James’s model (and common sense) for expected winning percentage makes it clear that preventing the opposing team from scoring is just as important as scoring runs. The repeated refrain that “defense wins championships” is as prevalent in baseball as it...

  8. 5 The Moneyball Diaspora
    (pp. 85-101)

    Baseball was the first professional team sport in the United States. It was also the first sport to introduce collective bargaining and free agency in the players’ market. And, it was the first sport to spawn the use of critical analytics to assess player performance and game and franchise business strategy.

    The other team sports have always followed baseball, and the case with analytics is no different. Baseball, of course, lends itself to the use of statistical analysis to evaluate player performance, among other reasons, because it is easier to isolate the productivity of individual players in baseball.¹ This is...

  9. 6 Analytics and the Business of Baseball
    (pp. 102-114)

    Quantitative analysis has been increasingly introduced over the last two decades to understand the business of baseball (and other sports). It has been applied to a variety of issues, such as efficient ticket pricing, regulation of secondary ticket market policies, impact of stadiums and teams on a local economy, threshold city size for hosting a team, franchise valuation, the relationship between player development expenditures or major league payroll and team performance, labor market institutions, and optimal competitive balance, among others. Entire books have been written about these subjects, so in this brief chapter we only wish to illustrate an area...

  10. 7 Estimating the Impact of Sabermetrics
    (pp. 115-136)

    Sabermetricians measure performance—mostly performance on the field, but also in the dugout and in the front office. They seek to inform us through new metrics and analysis what produces wins and profits.

    In this chapter, we turn the tables by endeavoring to measure the output of sabermetricians. In Chapter 1, we expressed skepticism about the story told by Michael Lewis inMoneyball,or at least about the details of that story. Lewis may have missed a few basic points and misrepresented several others, but that doesn’t mean that the underlying message was wrong. IfMoneyballwas nothing more than...

  11. THE EXPECTED RUN MATRIX
    (pp. 139-140)
  12. MODELING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SABERMETRIC STATISTICS
    (pp. 141-150)
  13. MODELING THE SHIFTING INEFFICIENCIES IN MLB LABOR MARKETS
    (pp. 151-154)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 155-178)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 179-188)
  16. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 189-189)