Thursday, May 24, 2012

Baseball goes to the NERDs

There was a time when a baseball player's value was determined in relatively simple terms - batting average, home runs and runs batted in for hitters, and earned run average, innings pitched and wins for pitchers. If you wanted to get more exotic in your analysis, you could delve into numbers like slugging and on-base percentages, opponents' batting average and strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
However, since sabermetrics entered the baseball maintream some 35 years ago, the defining measure of a player's value has shifted towards statistics like on-base plus slugging, or OPS, and walks and hits per innings pitched, or WHIP. Fair enough, but the baseball geeks were on a roll, and we now routinely hear and read about stats like Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), Defense Independant Pitching Statistics (DIPS) and Late Inning Pressure Situations (LIPS). So we have BABIP and DIPS and LIPS to go with OPS and WHIP and FRIP and FRAP, and since we're so enamored with these statistics, I'd like to suggest a few more: Nominally Equivalent Rain Delay, Doubles Off Righthanded Knuckleballers, Duration Under Maximum Batspeed, Bat Arc Rotation Factor, Pitcher to Umpire Tangibility Zone - or, for short, NERD, DORK, DUMB, BARF and PUTZ. I think they'd fit right in with the existing overanalysis.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. Everyone looks for insight in the microscopic, granular details when the sport has thrived for over a century without all of the gobbledygook.

    But if you think that's bad, the same subculture is now popping up in hockey, with stats like fenwick & corsi numbers, offensive zone starts & stops and a litany of other mumbo-jumbo that people are churning up. And heaven forbid if you don't buy in to it, as the people who whip up these numbers will waste no time in thumbing their nose at you when discussing hockey.