SABERMETRICS FIFTY YEARS AGO. We had a lot of discussion, for example, here, about whether Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout should be the American League Most Valuable Player for 2012 (Cabrera won). The debate turned on the application of Moneyball statistics. Tomorrow the results of the Hall of Fame balloting for 2013 will be announced, and there is a dispute about whether Jack Morris belongs in the Hall of Fame which displays the same kind of intensity over what are considered to be “new-fangled” baseball statistics. One veteran sportswriter has announced that he is going to vote only for Jack Morris in protest of what he calls “new-age stats guys”. But a lot of these “new” statistics have been around for a long time. My brother Elmer reminds me that our father back in the 1950’s was telling us some of the ideas that today’s sabermetricians consider to be basic. He told us that fielding averages—based on what percentage of fielding chances a player handled without making an error—were misleading (I posted here on how my father demonstrated the Bonura Salute to make the point.) My father thought that for infielders, the number of assists was the best indicator of a player’s range and fielding performance. I also recall my father also introducing us to several ratios which could be used to evaluate pitchers, especially minor league pitchers: strike outs per 9 innings, walk to strike out ratio, and walks plus hits per 9 innings. He cited Branch Rickey as his source for using these ratios.

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