Extracted from The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1988
Ballantine Books, New York
Copyright 1988 by Bill James
"What I wanted to write about... is a very basic question. Of all the studies I have done over the last 12 years, what have I learned? What is the relevance of sabermetric knowledge to the decision making process of ateam? If I were employed by a major-league team, what are the basic things that I know from the research I have done which would be of use to me in helping that team?"
1. Minor league batting statistics will predict major league batting performance with essentially the same reliability as previous major league statistics.
2. Talent in baseball is not normally distributed. It is a pyramid.For every player who is 10 percent above the average player, there are probably twenty players who are 10 percent below average.
3. What a player hits in one ballpark may be radically different from what he would hit in another.
4. Ballplayers, as a group, reach their peak value much earlier and decline much more rapidly than people believe.
5. Players taken in the June draft coming outof college (or with at least two years of college) perform dramatically better than players drafted out of high school.
6. The chance of getting a good player with a high draft pick is substantial enough that it is clearly a disastrous strategy to give up a first round draft choice to sign a mediocre free agent. (see note #1)
7. A power pitcher has a dramatically higher expectation forfuture wins than does a finesse pitcher of the same age and ability.
8. Single season won-lost records have almost no value as an indicator of a pitcher's contribution to a team.
9. The largest variable determining how many runs a team will score is how many times they get their leadoff man on base.
10. A great deal of what is perceived as being pitching is in fact defense.
11. Trueshortage of talent almost never occurs at the left end of the defensive spectrum. (see note #2)
12. Rightward shifts along the defensive spectrum almost never work. (see note #2)
13. Our idea of what makes a team good on artificial turf is not supported by any research.
14. When a team improves sharply one season they will almost always decline in the next.
15. The platoon differentialis real and virtually universal
1. Major league teams still must surrender choices in the amateur draft in exchange for signing free agents.
2. The defensive spectrum looks like this:
4. [ - - 1B - LF - RF - 3B - CF - 2B - SS - C - - ]
5. with the basic premise being that positions at the right end of
6. the spectrum are more difficult than the positions at theleft
7. end of the spectrum. Players can generally move from right
to left along the specturm successfully during their careers.
The Sabermetric Manifesto
By David Grabiner
I. What is sabermetrics?
Bill James defined sabermetrics as "the search for objective knowledge
about baseball." Thus, sabermetrics attempts to answer objective
questions about baseball, such as"which player on the Red Sox
contributed the most to the team's offense?" or "How many home runs will
Ken Griffey hit next year?" It cannot deal with the
subjective judgments which are also important to the game, such as "Who
is your favorite player?" or "That was a great game."
Since statistics are the best objective record of the game available,
sabermetricians often use them. Of course, astatistic is only useful
if it is properly understood. Thus, a large part of sabermetrics
involves understanding how to use statistics properly, which statistics
are useful for what purposes, and similar things. This does not mean
that you need to know a lot about mathematics to understand
sabermetrics, only that you need to have some idea of how statistics can
be used and misused....