A Critique of the Sabermetric Community

I love what the sabermetric community has done.  I think that they have made baseball much more comprehensible and allowed for analytical thinking to inform the game.  This has been a great thing for baseball.

Unfortunately, I think that they have become trapped in a familiar pattern, like most movements eventually do.  They have fought for so long to have their theories accepted that they guard them against all attacks.  Unfortunately, this can lead them to be blind to their exceptions.  This problem is, perhaps, exacerbated by the vast majority of sabermetricians having backgrounds in mathematics, where there are right and wrong answers and set equations that exist above reality.

As a history major, I have learned that while the normal way in which things work, represented here by sabermetric theories and measurements, describe most events well, there are anomalous events that happen.  These anomalies are important to investigate because, while most of them represent random variability, some are caused by variables that affect our understanding of the normal way in which things work.

This applies to the Pirates right now.  For two years in a row, the Pirates have, through about half a season, outperformed their Pythagorean, or expected, record by every measure.  They collapsed last year, and may well do so this year.  But the possibility exists that this anomaly is not random variability.

I propose that in order to accurately predict whether the Pirates’ performance is sustainable we need to examine other such anomalies and see whether there is a constant variable, or variables, that influence when a team can outperform their expected record.  I will try to do this soon.


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