Yall have heard of “the Book” – the unwritten rules ballplayers and managers and coaches know ALL about. You know, Rules like – don’t steal bases if your team is ahead by 8 or more runs. Or – bat Adam Everett second so he can bunt Biggio over. Or – you ain’t allowed to break up a no hitter after the 5th inning with a bunt hit, even if the score is 1-0.
Time for The Book.
And this one IS written – written by three famous sabermatricians; Tom Tango (aka Tangotiger), Mitchel Lichtman (official stat geek for the Cardinals) and Andy Dolphin.
Tango has PROMISED me that even a non math person like myself (who in serious deep doodoo without a calculator) can understand it and that they put the math and formulas into the appendix (for folks who don’t actually think a spreadsheet is something that goes on a mattress…)
Anyhow, they look at long held baseball “wisdom” and strategies with sabermatricians eyes. You KNOW the old school guys of the baseball world gonna have a FIT.
Take the sacrifice bunt, PLEASE. Now we ALL know that if the pitcher is up, and he can’t hit MY weight and there’s less than 2 outs, it’s GOOD for him to bunt. Even stats folks agree with THAT one.
Here’s where they are going with this:
“Such rhetoric as, It is a good strategy to put a run on the board as quickly as possible, or, Late in a close game, getting a single run can be critical, or, in the opposite vain, Outs are too precious to waste, or, A sac bunt is a rally killer, period, are just that – rhetoric. They don’t enable us to answer the following pertinent questions:- Is it ever correct to sac bunt? In other words, does a sac bunt ever increase a team’s chances of winning the game, as opposed to swinging away?
- If yes (it is sometimes correct), when?
- From what positions in the lineup, by what kinds of batters, with what kinds of hitters following the batter, versus what kind of pitcher, in what park, at what score, and in what inning?
If we can answer all, or even some, of these questions, then perhaps we can put the controversy and the arguments to rest. Maybe….”
Judging from the ENORMOUS amount of hostility from the Old Baseball Guys to “Moneyball” and to baseball people in the front office who do Really Bad Things like go to college, especially Bad Places like Harvard or Yale where they get taught to spread sheets on computers, I would guess that Christopher Columbus would have had an easier time convincing folks that the earth was round back in 1492.
(I know some of yall gonna be askin me why is Harvard such a Bad Place besides the fact that it is Up There and has a lousy football team, but I guess the answer is that they let in guys like Paul DePodesta who has zits and trades away ballplayers that Bill Plaschke personally likes for guys who can hit…)
So anyhow, me having an Inquiring Mind, I would like to see if, in the modern game as it has been played since, at least, the Strike, if Old Baseball Wisdom really DOES work in the long run. And if not, what would be a better way and why.
So, here I am, plugging this Book (I am NOT getting paid for it, by the way) even though I haven’t gotten my copy yet, just read the excerpts at www.insidethebook.com. But I have read a lot that has been written by Mitchel Lichtman (he’s the guy who invented the UZR system of rating defense, by the way) as well as Tangotiger and if this book is half as good as their blogs/casual writing, it’s gonna be good – and a LOT less, um, dramatic than Billy Beane’s “autobiography.”
So click here to go BUY The Book…