Smart Baseball

The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball

Smart Baseball

Predictably Irrational meets Moneyball in ESPN veteran writer and statistical analyst Keith Law’s iconoclastic look at the numbers game of baseball, proving why some of the most trusted stats are surprisingly wrong, explaining what numbers actually work, and exploring what the rise of Big Data means for the future of the sport. For decades, statistics such as batting average, saves recorded, and pitching won-lost records have been used to measure individual players’ and teams’ potential and success. But in the past fifteen years, a revolutionary new standard of measurement—sabermetrics—has been embraced by front offices in Major League Baseball and among fantasy baseball enthusiasts. But while sabermetrics is recognized as being smarter and more accurate, traditionalists, including journalists, fans, and managers, stubbornly believe that the "old" way—a combination of outdated numbers and "gut" instinct—is still the best way. Baseball, they argue, should be run by people, not by numbers.? In this informative and provocative book, teh renowned ESPN analyst and senior baseball writer demolishes a century’s worth of accepted wisdom, making the definitive case against the long-established view. Armed with concrete examples from different eras of baseball history, logic, a little math, and lively commentary, he shows how the allegiance to these numbers—dating back to the beginning of the professional game—is firmly rooted not in accuracy or success, but in baseball’s irrational adherence to tradition. While Law gores sacred cows, from clutch performers to RBIs to the infamous save rule, he also demystifies sabermetrics, explaining what these "new" numbers really are and why they’re vital. He also considers the game’s future, examining how teams are using Data—from PhDs to sophisticated statistical databases—to build future rosters; changes that will transform baseball and all of professional sports.

Infinite Baseball

Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark

Infinite Baseball

Baseball is a strange sport: it consists of long periods in which little seems to be happening, punctuated by high-energy outbursts of rapid fire activity. Because of this, despite ever greater profits, Major League Baseball is bent on finding ways to shorten games, and to tailor baseball to today's shorter attention spans. But for the true fan, baseball is always compelling to watch -and intellectually fascinating. It's superficially slow-pace is an opportunity to participate in the distinctive thinking practice that defines the game. If baseball is boring, it's boring the way philosophy is boring: not because there isn't a lot going on, but because the challenge baseball poses is making sense of it all. In this deeply entertaining book, philosopher and baseball fan Alva Noë explores the many unexpected ways in which baseball is truly a philosophical kind of game. For example, he ponders how observers of baseball are less interested in what happens, than in who is responsible for what happens; every action receives praise or blame. To put it another way, in baseball - as in the law - we decide what happened based on who is responsible for what happened. Noe also explains the curious activity of keeping score: a score card is not merely a record of the game, like a video recording; it is an account of the game. Baseball requires that true fans try to tell the story of the game, in real time, as it unfolds, and thus actively participate in its creation. Some argue that baseball is fundamentally a game about numbers. Noe's wide-ranging, thoughtful observations show that, to the contrary, baseball is not only a window on language, culture, and the nature of human action, but is intertwined with deep and fundamental human truths. The book ranges from the nature of umpiring and the role of instant replay, to the nature of the strike zone, from the rampant use of surgery to controversy surrounding performance enhancing drugs. Throughout, Noe's observations are surprising and provocative. Infinite Baseball is a book for the true baseball fan.

Scouting and Scoring

How We Know What We Know about Baseball

Scouting and Scoring

An in-depth look at the intersection of judgment and statistics in baseball Scouting and scoring are considered fundamentally different ways of ascertaining value in baseball. Scouting seems to rely on experience and intuition, scoring on performance metrics and statistics. In Scouting and Scoring, Christopher Phillips rejects these simplistic divisions. He shows how both scouts and scorers rely on numbers, bureaucracy, trust, and human labor in order to make sound judgments about the value of baseball players. Tracing baseball’s story from the nineteenth century to today, Phillips explains that the sport was one of the earliest and most consequential fields for the introduction of numerical analysis. New technologies and methods of data collection were supposed to enable teams to quantify the drafting and managing of players—replacing scouting with scoring. But that’s not how things turned out. Over the decades, scouting and scoring started looking increasingly similar. Scouts expressed their judgments in highly formulaic ways, using numerical grades and scientific instruments to evaluate players. Scorers drew on moral judgments, depended on human labor to maintain and correct data, and designed bureaucratic systems to make statistics appear reliable. From the invention of official scorers and Statcast to the creation of the Major League Scouting Bureau, the history of baseball reveals the inextricable connections between human expertise and data science. A unique consideration of the role of quantitative measurement and human judgment, Scouting and Scoring provides an entirely fresh understanding of baseball by showing what the sport reveals about reliable knowledge in the modern world.

Descriptive Data Mining

Descriptive Data Mining

This book provides an overview of data mining methods demonstrated by software. Knowledge management involves application of human knowledge (epistemology) with the technological advances of our current society (computer systems) and big data, both in terms of collecting data and in analyzing it. We see three types of analytic tools. Descriptive analytics focus on reports of what has happened. Predictive analytics extend statistical and/or artificial intelligence to provide forecasting capability. It also includes classification modeling. Diagnostic analytics can apply analysis to sensor input to direct control systems automatically. Prescriptive analytics applies quantitative models to optimize systems, or at least to identify improved systems. Data mining includes descriptive and predictive modeling. Operations research includes all three. This book focuses on descriptive analytics. The book seeks to provide simple explanations and demonstration of some descriptive tools. This second edition provides more examples of big data impact, updates the content on visualization, clarifies some points, and expands coverage of association rules and cluster analysis. Chapter 1 gives an overview in the context of knowledge management. Chapter 2 discusses some basic software support to data visualization. Chapter 3 covers fundamentals of market basket analysis, and Chapter 4 provides demonstration of RFM modeling, a basic marketing data mining tool. Chapter 5 demonstrates association rule mining. Chapter 6 is a more in-depth coverage of cluster analysis. Chapter 7 discusses link analysis. Models are demonstrated using business related data. The style of the book is intended to be descriptive, seeking to explain how methods work, with some citations, but without deep scholarly reference. The data sets and software are all selected for widespread availability and access by any reader with computer links.

Future Value

The Battle for Baseball's Soul and How Teams Will Find the Next Superstar

Future Value

Eric Longenhagen is the FanGraphs Lead Prospect Analyst. His career in baseball began in 2008, the youngest of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs' inaugural crop of interns. He'd go on to work at Baseball Info Solutions and begin writing for various publications, like Crashburn Alley and Sports on Earth, before contributing to ESPN's prospect coverage starting in 2015. He has been at FanGraphs since 2016. Kiley McDaniel has worked for the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, and New York Yankees, along with ESPN, FanGraphs, Fox Sports/Scout.com, and Baseball Prospectus. He began as an intern for the Yankees in baseball operations and his most recent club experience was as the assistant director of baseball operations and West Coast crosschecker for the Braves. He resides in Atlanta with his puppy, Scout, and currently writes for ESPN, either from a hotel room or his couch, next to Scout.