Hello! I am Sean Testerman, formally known here as Moranall, and this is my first post as an official writer for AZ Snake Pit. I will be writing a weekly column, every Tuesday, that is focused on “Sabermetrics” for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I am very humbled to be given this opportunity and even a bit nervous. However, I am just as excited and eager in anticipation for the MLB season to start on Sunday, April 2nd, when the Diamondbacks face off against the San Francisco Giants as one of two games (the other being Rays-Yankees) to play on Sunday ahead of the “official” MLB Opening Day on Monday, April 3rd. And win 97 games, of course.
The focus for my weekly posts is going to be on sabermetrics, which is the empirical analysis of baseball, specifically regarding in-game statistics. The goal is to learn as much as possible through quanitative or qualitative data (e.g. Goldy went 3-4 today) rather than observable data that cannot be quantified or qualified (e.g. Goldy has a nice-looking swing). While this second type of data still has value, especially to someone with qualified eyes, human observation leaves a large margin for bias and subjectivity. Sabermetrics strives to be as objective as possible to filter out these biases.
I’ll give an example of Sabermetrics from early on. For a long time (and some people still belive this today), the traditional method to measure a hitter’s performance was with batting average. The reason was simple - better hitters should get more hits. The higher one’s batting average, the better they were as a hitter.
However, the early Sabermetricians (really, the “forefathers”), realized that batting average wasn’t grabbing the entire value of a hitter. Specifically, they realized two things: there are more ways to get on base (walk and hit-by-pitch) and that extra base hits were being given the same value as singles. As a result, on-base percentage and slugging percentage were created to better reflect these two situations, respectively. In the modern game, OBP and slugging (more specifically, ISO) are considered much more valuable in player evaluation than batting average.
To generalize: a baseball traditionalist would say the best hitters are the ones that can hit .400. A Sabermetrician would say that the best hitters won’t hit .400 because their focus is getting on base and hitting for power, not just hitting for average.
I understand that Sabermetrics can be very divisive. There is a very wide range in both belief in Sabermetrics (from don’t believe in it at all to believe in every aspect of Sabermetrics) as well as knowledge (from don’t know stats/methods at all to very advanced knowledge of stats/methods for baseball analysis) and I know that the audience for the AZ Snake Pit is going to vary significantly within both ranges and that these differences can often lead to many arguments. It’s going to be a challenge for me to deliver content that is both easy to understand to as many readers as possible while still providing good analytical content. I recognize that this topic will not resonate with all readers but I will work to help make it enjoyable as much as I can and to keep the analysis at levels that many readers can understand.
With this in mind, I would like to learn more about you, Snake Pit reader. What would you like to see in a Sabermetric/analysis post regarding the Diamondbacks and the 2017 season? There are a lot of ways that I can go about this, so I have created a poll with some broad options. If you have the time, I would appreciate it if you responded to the poll with what you would like to see in this column going forward. And please, feel free to comment below with anymore details that you’d like. I am very open to feedback and I would love to learn more about what the loyal readers here at ‘Pit would like to see for this upcoming year.