Why knowing what went before will help the sabermetric movement in the future.
This was my third year attending the annual convention of the Society for American Baseball Research—in this case, the 43rd such event. It is one of the social highlights of the year for a community that essentially suffered a diaspora at birth—it’s never been easier for baseball researchers to communicate, but every so often it’s vital to actually bring them together under one roof, and SABR is a vital way of doing that.
There are panel discussions, keynotes, presentations, posters, and committee meetings. There are also discussions in hallways and on escalators and in line at cheesesteak vendors and in bars… well, okay, mostly in bars. And those ad hoc interactions are at least as important as the formal events, if not more so. I’ve tried to recap the formalevents, at least the ones I found of suitable interest. But it doesn’t really do enough to capture the sense of what the thing is. So let’s talk a bit. I don’t mean so much talk about SABR, although I’ll do that plenty. I mean let’s talk like we’re at the bar, with room to meander and ruminate and think about larger things. Now, obviously, I’m going to be doing most of the talking here to start, but a few of my victims from the hotel bar on Saturday night can tell you that’s pretty typical of being at SABR too.
A review of the keynote address at this week's SABR convention in Philadelphia.
It may seem incongruous to some to have David Montgomery, president of the very traditional (and sometimes openly disdainful of sabermetrics) Philadelphia Phillies address the crowd at SABR. But it really shouldn’t. Sabermetrics is named in homage to SABR, but while Bill James’ admiration for SABR is returned by many of its members, it is a very traditional organization as well. Its membership skews very old – even older than the 2013 Phillies, believe it or not. And while you’ll find a diversity of interests at SABR (including some interested in sabermetrics, in fact), on the whole it skews heavily toward an appreciation of baseball history. The Phillies too share an appreciation for baseball’s historical record, apparently up to and including using it as a reason to sign Delmon Young. So it really is a good fit.
Montgomery opened by welcoming everyone to “his city” of Philadelphia, saying, "This is a very passionate sports town, which is great if you happen to work in sports. Well for the most part, it’s great.” He got more than a few laughs from that. He then went on to discuss the “cycles” of the Phillies, talking about the high points of the franchise (including the recent run of success. He did not elucidate where the 2013 Phillies were in the cycle, however.)
More than 14,000 scouting reports available through online companion to Museum display
A special group of people near and dear to my heart will finally get recognition this year as the Baseball Hall of Fame opens up its Diamond Mines exhibit honoring professional and amateur scouts. Thanks to the work of my esteemed SABR colleagues Rod Nelson, the late Jim Sandoval, Ted Turocy and Sean Lahman, data linking more than 11,000 players with the names of their signing or recommending scout will now be available to the general public. I've seen the work first-hand, and it's truly some amazing stuff. Below is the full press release of today's announcement.
Gold Glove voting is getting a statistical side. Is that something to celebrate?
So we won this weekend. At least I think we won. At least I think they told me we won.
It was announced that the Gold Glove Awards will add a metric component to the traditional voting of major-league managers and coaches, a presumed victory for everyone who prefers the analytical and objective over the judgment of the human eye.
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Ben and Sam discuss Ben's trip to Phoenix for the SABR Analytics Conference, covering the sabermetrics of marketing, clubhouse chemistry, knuckleballers, bullpen usage, the WBC, Kyle Lohse, and other topics along the way.
Detailing some of the major panels at the first SABR Analytics Conference and soaking in some spring training action.
I can't do full justice to my trip to Arizona to participate in the inaugural SABR Analytics Conference, which took place from March 15-17 in Mesa, Arizona. Five days in all, part work, part working vacation—and rarely just vacation—the trip was pure sensory overload, a full immersion in a corner of the baseball universe with which I am quite familiar, but one whose size and scope have grown larger than I ever imagined. I couldn't possibly absorb it all, but what follows here and in the second installment is my best attempt to capture some of what I experienced.