Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 13, 2004
BASEBALL: Defensive Stats Go Mainstream

Peter Gammons can be very frustrating for sabermetrically-inclined readers; he clearly understands and enjoys sophisticated analyses of the game, but he's also prone to Luddite anti-stathead diatribes. As I've often noted, the reason for this is that Gammons will repeat basically anything his sources around the game's front offices tell him, and many of them remain contemptuous of statistical analysis on anything but the most rudimentary level. To give a political analogy, Gammons is David Broder and Bob Novak rolled into one, dispensing the insiders' views from both sides of a raging debate with equal vigor. In fact, given how closely Gammons' columns reflect conventional wisdom, you can measure the influence of sabermetric ideas within the game by how often they show up in Gammons' work as opposed to how often he bashes them.

So, it's welcome to see Gammons picking up on the Hot New Thing, the pursuit of sophisticated defensive statistics and their role in the reshaping of the Oakland and Boston rosters. And, of course, he throws us sabermetric types the ultimate bone at the end:

Statistical analysis, whose roots make Bill James an absolute must for the Hall of Fame . . .

Too true; read the whole thing.

Also, Jim Baker looks at the historical performance of wild card teams in the playoffs, with some surprising results - including the fact that baseball's wild card teams have won more playoff games than they have lost, with a record of 85-79 (or 78-72, if you exlude the 2002 World Series matchup of two wild card teams).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:02 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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