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March 14, 2011

BP Unfiltered

(Belated) SABR Day 2011 Recap...With Video!

by Joe Hamrahi

Many of you have asked for a recap of the Baseball Prospectus SABR Day event, and believe me, we haven't forgotten. We've been waiting for the video from January 29th to be cut and edited, and now that we have a final product, it's time to share it with you.

More than a hundred baseball fans gathered at Foley's Pub and Restaurant in New York on January 29th to celebrate SABR Day with Baseball Prospectus. When we planned the day's festivities, we figured we'd get a good turnout, but we surpassed our own expectations by selling out in one day.

The program was broken down into four segments. We kicked off the day with a panel on the Hall of Fame, followed that with discussions on statistics and scouting, and wrapped up the afternoon talking about the Mets and Yankees. The Hall of Fame panel consisted of Jay Jaffe (Baseball Prospectus), Steven Goldman (Baseball Prospectus Editor-in-Chief), Dan Schlossberg  (SABR member and baseball author), Doug Lyons (SABR member and baseball author), and Ken Davidoff (President of the BBWAA and Newsday baseball writer). The banter was lively, and Davidoff did a great job of explaining how his voting process for Hall of Fame candidates has evolved over time. Jay talked about the use of advanced statistics in the evaluation process, and everyone expressed their excitement about Bert Blyleven's recent election into the Hall.

In this clip, Davidoff and Jaffe discuss their thoughts on the election process.

We brought out more heavy hitters for the second panel, which focused on the statistical and informational side of the game. 

Cory Schwartz (MLB.com Director of Statistics), Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau Executive Vice President), Vince Gennaro (SABR board member and presidential candidate, author, professor, and consultant to MLB teams), and Ben Lindbergh (Baseball Prospectus) talked about the development of new statistics and their role in the game today. Schwartz fielded the majority of the questions that focused on PITCHf/x and FIELDf/x; Gennaro spoke about how he and his students used analytics to evaluate Derek Jeter's contract; Hirdt talked about the role of stats in broadcasts; and Lindbergh discussed how teams now use data (in conjunction with Bloomberg Sports) to arrive at informed decisions. We also found out that Ben once interned for Steve at Elias!

Here's a taste of the many topics covered by the statistical panel, from f/x technology to the history of the Elias rankings.

In the third panel discussion, attention was turned to scouting and player development. I have to say that I was a bit worried about the direction of this conversation. With a room filled with "stat heads," I envisioned the audience tossing vegetables across the room at the mere mention of "tools." Of course, that wasn't the case. 

Baseball Prospectus' resident prospect guru Kevin Goldstein and Kansas City Royals Northeast Scouting Supervisor Dennis Sheehan took the stage for what might have been the the liveliest and most interesting session of the day. Kevin and Dennis discussed skills and makeup, the value of painting a picture of a player, and how college baseball affects (or actually hinders) a baseball player's development. The audience asked some great questions, including one on the international draft that both Goldstein and Sheehan responded to in this clip. 

The fourth and final SABR Day segment was primarily a question-and-answer session. Given a room filled with New York baseball fans, we felt it was only fitting to give the attendees the floor to rant about what they know best: the Mets and Yankees. The New York baseball panel consisted of Gary Cohen (SNY New York Mets broadcaster), Steven Goldman, Matt Meyers (Associate Baseball Editor, ESPN The Magazine/Insider), Ken Davidoff, and Kevin Goldstein.  

While the questions during this session touched on a variety of topics, ranging from the aging Yankees roster to whether Luis Castillo would be playing second base for the Mets in 2011, the most ardent queries were devoted to the state of the Mets' ownership and management. Similarly impassioned responses were elicited from the panel members, who had plenty to say on the topic. In general, though, most were pleased with the hiring of Sandy Alderson, as indicated by this clip.  

To say that SABR Day 2011 was a success would be an understatement. Our special guests certainly lived up to their hype, and the audience was fantastic. The folks at Foley's made us feel right at home and provided a very nostalgic backdrop for what turned out to be a great day of baseball discussion.

I'd like to thank Shaun from Foley's, all of our special guests, and most importantly, all of you who attended the event or expressed interest in attending. Rest assured, there will be more events like this one heading your way in 2011!

Joe Hamrahi is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

7 comments have been left for this article.

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The Week in Quotes: Ma... (03/14)
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