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Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective evidence, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity rather than industry activity such as attendance. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the Society for American Baseball Research. It was coined by Bill James, who was one of its pioneers and has long been its most prominent advocate and public face.[1]


General principles

The Sabermetric Manifesto by David Grabiner (1994)[2] begins:

Bill James defined sabermetrics as "the search for objective knowledge about baseball." Thus, sabermetrics attempts to answer objective questions about baseball, such as "which player on the Red Sox contributed the most to the team's offense?" or "How many home runs will Ken Griffey hit next year?" It cannot deal with the subjective judgments which are also important to the game, such as "Who is your favorite player?" or "That was a great game."

It may, however, attempt to settle questions such as "Was Willie Mays faster than Mickey Mantle?" by establishing several possible parameters for examining speed in objective studies (how many triples each man hit, how many bases each man stole, how many times he was caught stealing) and then reaching a tentative conclusion on the basis of these individual studies.

Sabermetricians frequently question traditional measures of baseball skill. For instance, they doubt that batting average is as useful as conventional wisdom says it is because team batting average provides a relatively poor fit for team runs scored.[3]

A more typical sabermetric reasoning would say that runs win ballgames, and that therefore a good measure of a player's worth is his ability to help his team score more runs than the opposing team. In particular, they tend to emphasize on base percentage.

Accordingly, sabermetric measures—such as Bill James's runs created and win shares or Pete Palmer's total player rating—are usually phrased in terms of either runs or team wins; a truly outstanding player, for example, might be described as being worth 54 runs more than an average player at the same position over the course of a full season.

Sabermetrics is concerned both with determining the value of a player in past seasons and with trying to predict the value of a player in the future. While many areas of study are still in development, it has yielded a number of interesting insights into the game of baseball and in the area of performance measurement.

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