Posted March 07, 2013 on AP on Fox
They were called old-timers or purists, those who blanched last fall at the thought that Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera might be passed over for the MVP award after achieving the Triple Crown, leading the American League in batting average, homers and RBIs. On the other side of baseball's dividing line stood new-school thought, people who argued just as vehemently that advanced statistics left no doubt the Angels' Mike Trout was best in the game. The debate continues to rage, long after Cabrera captured the award and as a new season dawns, and has thrust the notion of baseball analytics into the public consciousness. This weekend, some of the game's brightest minds - team executives, statisticians, economists and more - have gathered to take a deeper look into the numbers behind the box score. The second Analytics Conference, put on by the Society for American Baseball Research, is a three-day feast of America's pastime. But instead of jersey-wearing fans pining for signatures from their favorite players, economists and law school students and hundreds of others are huddling in hallways and back rooms to discuss WAR, BABIP and other ways of dissecting the game. ''The idea behind the conference is pretty straightforward,'' said SABR president Vince Gennaro, author of ''Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball.'' ''It's to discuss various topics of interest to the baseball community and baseball.'' ''This conference is all about sharing viewpoints,'' Gennaro added, ''and in the process of doing so, elevating our understanding of the game.'' Dozens of presentations are planned at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, each of them presenting unique thoughts and opinions. Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten is scheduled to speak Friday, shortly after a panel that includes Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, White Sox GM Rick Hahn and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Others scheduled to appear include Bill James, who ushered in the idea of advanced statistics with his baseball abstracts in the late 1970s and `80s, and now advises the Red Sox; author Joe Posnanski and TV personality Brian Kenny; Tyrone Brooks, the Pirates' director of player personnel; and Derek Falvey, director of baseball operations for the Indians. ''I think any fan who ever thinks, `Why is this guy still playing third base?' is thinking of the game as a general manager,'' said Kenny, whose ''Clubhouse Confidential'' show on the MLB Network incorporates sabermetrics in examining the day's baseball news. These aren't the kind of discussions that usually take place on a bar stool, though, or by a couple of buddies sipping a beer in the cheap seats at Wrigley Field. Just consider the titles of some of the presentations: ''Nash Equilibrium Solutions for Fastball Locations in Two-Strike Counts,'' by Kevin Tenenbaum and Dave Allen, and ''Bayes at the Plate: Game Theory and Pitch Selection,'' by Matt Swartz, who writes for several baseball publications and holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. ''Some of it is pretty deep,'' Gennaro acknowledged, ''but the real goal is to design a conference that is appealing to the 30 major league clubs, and from there expand it to a wider audience.'' One of the highlights of the conference is the ''Diamond Dollars Case Competition,'' where teams of students from colleges across the country argue their solution to a baseball-type problem. In this case, students were to examine the contract situation of Trout - widely considered one of the best young players in the game - and present to Angels GM Jerry Dipoto their recommendation, whether that means year-by-year deals or signing the young star to a long-term contract. The students' responses are judged by a panel that includes front-office officials from the Rockies, Cardinals, Rangers and Indians, with the winner crowned by the end of the weekend. The conference isn't just about numbers, either. Geoff Miller, the mental skills coach for the Atlanta Braves, was invited by SABR to discuss ways for baseball officials to combine intangible factors with analytics methods, and agents Casey Close and Gregg Clifton planned to discuss ways new data and information has changed their jobs. Meanwhile, the Cabrera vs Trout debate keeps popping up. Cabrera led the AL in hitting with a .330 average last season, and his a league-leading 44 homers and 139 RBIs allowed him to win baseball's first Triple Crown in 45 years. Trout hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs, but had a WAR - Wins Above Replacement, a metric that factors in numerous statistics to encapsulate a player's true value - of 10.7, which in theory made him the single most valuable position player in the majors last season. ''Look, Miguel Cabrera did actually win the MVP award,'' said Kenny, who has called the vote an example of antiquated, pack-mentality thinking. ''The next challenge is for innovative thinking. This is a period for innovating and changing things. At least, you'd like to think.''
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Peterson lifts Marlins over Team Venezuela

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera homered among his three hits and had four RBIs, but Venezuela, playing hours after the death of President Hugo Chavez, lost to the Miami Marlins 6-5 on Tuesday night in a tuneup for the World Baseball Classic. Cabrera's two-out, two-run homer down the left-field line off Jordan Smith in the seventh gave Venezuela a 5-3 lead. The reigning...

Did Men’s Health Photoshop Fat Mike Trout Cover?

Much of the hoopla coming out of Angels Spring Training has been surrounding Fat Mike Trout. The second year star rolled into camp weighing in at 241 pounds, roughly 15 pound heavier than he was last season. Also, Trout is now a full 5 pounds heavier than teammate Albert Pujols. Weird. That’s what makes this Men’s Health Magazine cover so interesting. The discussion with Trout...

Mike Trout Proves He Is Worth Much More Than the Los Angeles Angels are Paying Him

Some may say it is only preseason and there is no need to go all out, but that seems to be the only way that L.A. Angels outfielder Mike Trout does it. Your browser does not support iframes. I have a feeling that the Angels are going to be sorry that they stiffed him on his contract. Last season's American League Rookie of the Year and runner up MVP only made about...

More details on Trout

Mike Trout’s agent, in his talks with the Los Angeles Angels, implied that the outfielder wanted a $1 million salary for 2013, according to major-league sources. Such a figure would have been the largest ever paid to a player with fewer than two years of service. But Trout’s agent, Craig Landis, could have asked for $25 million and it wouldn’t have mattered. Trout, as a pre...

Verlander talks money, gay rights, first MLB hit

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander sat down with CNN's Carol Costello to talk money, gay rights and more. Verlander was asked about the comments he made about the $200 million contract, his response: "They got taken out of 

Leyland: Win or lose 'no intention of retiring'

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been managing under one-year contracts for the past few years, which he likes because it allows him or the Tigers to part ways without complications, but he made it clear Friday he has no plans of 

The optimist’s perspective on Mike Trout’s contract situation.

It’s well-documented. Mike Trout had one of the greatest individual seasons ever in 2012. Mike Trout is your new favorite Angels player. He is the Phenom of all Phenoms. Naturally, Angels fans young and old want him to stick around, and to be perhaps the first player to enter the hallowed halls of Cooperstown with the Halo’d insignia gracing his plaque.   So when Trout’s...

A Rebuttal to Ron Shandler and David Gonos re: Mike Trout

Baseball HQ's Ron Shandler makes some ostenibly persuasive arguments as to why Trout should not be drafted anywhere near his current price tag (top-three overall pick or $40-plus dollar buy), as does my industry colleague David Gonos. While there's little doubt it would be wise to bet on regression from his monster rookie year, I think both overstate the case and that Trout...

AngelsWin.com Podcast - Volume 12

Tonight on the AngelsWin.com Internet Podcast, hosts Adam Dodge and Geoff Stoddart welcome AngelsWin.com Founder, Chuck Richter, and Director of Marketing, Brian Ilten. Tonight's topics of discussion included … * Angels horrible Spring Training start. Something the fans should worry about? * Mike Trout's new contract. Was he jobbed, or was it a good move by the team...

Halo Headlines: Pujols makes a surprise appearance in the lineup, how Trout provides value on ...

The March 6th, 2013 edition of daily news for the Los Angeles Angels including Pujols makes a surprise appearance in the lineup, how Trout provides value on the bases and much more... The Story: Albert Pujols made a surprise return to the Angels lineup yesterday. The Monkey Says: This came out of left field, but it can only be a good thing. Albert went 0-for-3 and pretty...

Halo Headlines: Trout's agent asked for $1 million, Weaver trying to recover his old arm angle

The March 7th, 2013 edition of daily news for the Los Angeles Angels including Trout's agent asked for $1 million, Weaver trying to recover his old arm angle and much more... The Story: Ken Rosenthal reports that Mike Trout's agent asked the Angels for $1 million for his 2013 contract. The Monkey Says: As the article states, that would've been the highest payday...

Rawlings Announces Gold Glove Ballots Will Have Analytical Component, SABR to Be Presenting Sponsor

The voting process for all of Major League Baseball’s major awards have been long under criticism. However, few awards in any sport have taken as much flak as the Rawlings Gold Gloves. The Gold Gloves are voted on by fans and coaches, and the argument against that process has been twofold: Not only do the voters strongly tend to play to long-established favorites and bigger names...

Oregon Ducks Pitcher Jeff Gold Makes Candidate for Play of the Year

I look out side and see snow on the ground and find it hard to believe that it is actually baseball season already. Then I look on the internet and see the box scores, I check my email and see the fantasy league invites, I got the store and see the Spring seasonal beers on the shelf... Yeah. Baseball is back baby! We've already seen some great plays out of the likes of...

The Buck Starts Here: Late Mixed League Auction Targets

More often than not, fantasy baseball owners head into their draft with a list of players they’re targeting and have a general idea of how much they’re willing to spend to acquire said players. But two-to-three hours into an auction, when teams are filled up, targeting specific positions or possibly not even paying attention, other owners may capitalize by securing players with...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.