Rob Neyer has a nice post in which he uses my valuation of Raul Ibanez as an example where the sabermetric community is not in agreement. Rob has a great point: there is a lot of disagreement among baseball analysts.
The sabermetric community is quite broad, and I’m not sure how to properly define it. But, I will say that I consider myself to operate outside of what most people consider to be the sabermetric community, but that I often study similar questions. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say some of what I do is sabermetrics, but my approach and methods are different than the community standard. This doesn’t bother me.
I’m an economist. I didn’t grow up reading Bill James, playing Strat-O-Matic, or participating in old Usenet groups. I wish I had been aware of these things, but I think that my outside perspective has been an advantage when analyzing baseball.
In the comments on Rob’s site, there are two comments that I want to post here. The first is from Mitchel Lichtman (MGL).
JC, with all due respect, is an economist with some knowledge of sabermetrics and not a sabermetrician. As well, I don’t think he is an expert on projections by any means. There are plenty of experts with respect to projections, and I don’t think – in fact I know – that any of them will project his value at anything close to 14mm per year.
And this is my response.
I agree with MGL, I shouldn’t be considered a sabermetrician. I have never claimed to be a member of this community. What I do is apply my knowledge from my economics training and experience with analyzing data to issues in baseball. While MGL believes I do not understand certain sabermetric principles, I believe many sabermetricians (MGL included) underestimate the difficulty in analyzing baseball phenomena, especially when it comes to valuing players. Sabermetricians have made important discoveries (Voros McCracken’s work on DIPS was an important and correct finding); however, much what passes for research within this community is not sufficiently rigorous to reach the conclusions often claimed. There are many academic researchers from a variety of fields who have significantly advanced the understanding of baseball that receive scant mention in the sabermetric community. For example, Michael Schell’s Baseball’s All-Time Best Sluggers is the most thorough treatise on hitting ever written; yet, few individuals mention his work or attempt to replicate his methods. You rarely see economists Gerald Scully or Tony Krautmann mentioned when attempting to value players, despite the fact that their methods were published in reputable peer-reviewed economics journals, where established experts vetted their work. Academics are not always right, but I believe the checks ensure they are more likely to reach correct conclusions than informal online discussions.
Just to clear things up.