Atlanta Braves take full advantage of everything Jayson Werth is complaining about
So what are advanced stats?
I am a software engineer by trade. What I do is actually not unlike what the sabrematricians do: attempting to take the available data and developing tools to recognize patterns.
Take facial recognition software as an example. You or I can look at two different photos and usually decide instantly whether they are images of the same person.
To simulate such behavior, computers must be taught to do what we intuitively do via our minds and our sight… and that’s a difficult task. Programmers must come up with a variety of tools – control points, stats, etc. – to be able to mimic our innate ability.
But it’s an imperfect science. I am reminded of Helen Hunt’s line in the movie Twister about state of the art in tornado warnings: “They’re not good enough, they’re nowhere near good enough.” The same thing applies here, too.
The holy grail of this new science would be to guess what any hitter’s outcome is going to be for any given plate appearance, pitcher, pitcher’s repertoire, location, weather, trends, etc.
Now granted: this goal will never be achieved. But you can make better educated guesses about such things… and here’s a bulletin: managers have been using such tools for longer than you might believe.
This actually isn’t all together new
Are you old enough to see a camera panned into a dugout while a manager and his bench coach are flipping pages in a notebook? You think that’s only a list of players that he still has on the bench to use? Nope… such “charts” as they were called were trends of player performance vs. pitchers – done in an era before computers made it much easier to store, manage, and retrieve such information.
You recall when pitchers ‘charted pitches’ before an upcoming start? You think that data was just thrown in the trash afterwards?
No – it’s all data: every bit of it. From Strat-O-Matic baseball cards to Bill James to modern stats… you can draw a straight line from ‘old school’ baseball to today because every team has always wanted an edge to gain an advantage over their competition.