brewers baseball and things

SABR toothed tiger


There’s been all kinds of promotional give aways at baseball games; from seat cushions to bobble heads, replica jerseys, bats, uniforms, baseball cards, barbecue smocks, and whatever marketeers can come up with.

But never 3-d glasses, not yet anyway. Or maybe the attitude adjustment potion was mixed into secret stadium sauce and spread across hot dogs; sort of a slow generational creep to reach its full potential. It’s almost there.

Holding the back side of a baseball card beside the light of today’s statistical glossary makes my mouth drop at all the innovation. The math we’ve come to know as  Sabermetrics-SABR for Society of American Baseball Research defines itself as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.”

SABR is the history of uniforms, big league chew, world series trivia, and defunct minor league teams. It’s also reams of data on every game ever played in baseball. The simple statistics of at bats, home runs, stadium dimension, etc. are stuffed into formulas producing numbers to better evaluate player performance. The variables included are maybe where the genius resides or maybe it’s in the algorithms or maybe I have no idea, but I bow anyway because my math IQ is painfully low.

The great baseball minds stretch all the way back to father baseball himself- Mr. Henry Chadwick. He considered errors to be a weak measure of defensive ability. What about the defenders, he asked, who have greater range and as a result, make more plays in addition to more errors? That was Chadwick in the 1860’s.

Branch Rickey hired Allan Roth to sit in a Montreal press box and record statistics for the AAA International League Royals. On base percentage, pitch counts, and batter splits against right or left handed pitchers were all made available to Rickey. That was in the 1940’s.


Bill James toiled away as a graveyard shift janitor in Lawrence, Kansas. The hours allowed him to crunch numbers into formulas most kids weren’t reading on the backs of baseball cards. James offered his finding to a cult following via snail mail. That was the 1970’s.

The rebellion is no longer a rebellion. It was probably never a rebellion. It was simply seeing. Nowadays there’s a Bill James around every blog thread because kids are smarter. I bow to them. If you want to work in the front office of a baseball team., you better know some probability theory.

I take the change as real good because I’d rather have Einstein running my favorite team than me and my superstitions.


Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

2 thoughts on “SABR toothed tiger

  1. Bud Selig’s going to Cooperstown in his lifetime, as Zombie Comissioners never die, but James will never get his plaque, at least not in his lifetime most likely, and that ain’t exactly justice.

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