I remember the way things used to be. Used to be, writing about baseball analysis was pretty easy. Inflated or deflated BABIP over here. High groundball rate over there. This guy has a big difference between his ERA and his xFIP. That guy is miscast as a role player. That’s not the way things are anymore. Many of the principles were fine, and you still see a lot of the same ideas, but over time things have grown more complex, more nuanced. We’re moving beyond pointing out weird things, and we’re moving toward trying to explain weird things. It’s all in the name of identifying what is and isn’t sustainable. All of us want to be fortune tellers.
The Phillies signed Roberto Hernandez today, as a starting pitcher. He’s going to get a base salary around $4.5 million, and with incentives he can top out around $6 million. If writing were the same as it was a few years ago, I could just write a few paragraphs about how Hernandez put up a 4.89 ERA and a 3.60 xFIP. On that basis alone, hey, look, bargain! But because of what writing and research have become, now you also get that intro paragraph.