The Society of American Baseball Research is in the midst of their 41st gathering and by all accounts it has been an excellent exercise of baseball thought. FanGraphs presented a panel at the conference on Thursday night, and this totally unbiased opinion had the night at around the “pretty sweet” level.
Coming together on the first squaretable were Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts (or “the first stathead to induct someone into the Hall of Fame” as moderator Jonah Keri put it), Sam Miller of the Orange County Register, Eric Stephen of True Blue LA and Jon Weisman of Dodger Talk. Because these men are talented wordsmiths (and all really great guys, Jonah assures us), we won’t waste any more words here. Bask, instead, in the glory of direct quotes.
“The Angels are a great mystery. How they’ve managed to win despite their run differentials is a mystery. How they’ve won despite Jeff Mathis is a mystery.” – Sam Miller
“You’ve done a lot of Jeff Mathis research – ” Jonah Keri
“Yes, I have done a lot of research and I’ve found.. he’s not a good hitter.” – Miller
“At least now you can get to the park in a reasonable amount of time,” – Jon Weisman on the Dodgers’ situation.
“Furcal has to show he can stay healthy for more than a week at a time,” – Eric Stephen on possible trades.
“The Dodgers haven’t had an opportunity to rebuild at the trade deadline since… since they traded Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields.” – Weisman
“Now that Rod Barajas is here, I know I want to come back,” – Stephen, paraphrasing Vin Scully this past offseason.
“Dioner Navarro has ten pitch hit appearances and that’s about twelve too many.” – Stephen
Then Carson Cistulli took over the ones and twos and more hilarity ensued. On his panel were our own Dave Cameron, Rich Lederer once again, Rob Neyer of SBNation, and Vince Gennaro, president of SABR. The ‘National Baseball Panel’ promised “no Canadian coverage whatsoever,” but failed to come through on that promise.
“He’s got some problems with snoring,” – Carson Cistulli on roommate Dave Cameron.
“Leading in the category of insults received from Bill James,” Cistulli on Rob Neyer.
“Their attendance went up and they bought Venezuela,” Cameron on the Rangers.
“I just want to say ‘rubric.'” – Neyer
“Rubric.” – Cistulli
“Rubric.” – Neyer
“Too many teams are banking on their rebuilding plan getting their team to the world series, and THEN getting their fans back.” – Cameron
“Vince, please. Not Mr. Gennaro.” – Vince Gennaro
“When you start to break down prospects into the component numerical values provided by scouts, add those to their overall scores, and correlate all of those scores to major league success, you find some predictive value. The implicit weighting that a scout goes through to give an overall number doesn’t always come out right.” – Gennaro
“There might be less cocaine smoked these days,” – Cameron, on why teams have become more successful at drafting in the first round.
“I’m sorry I’m not up on my drugs,” – Cameron, after some correction from the crowd.
“I don’t ever have to mention UZR or some other thing that will make my reader want to punch me in the face,” – Cameron on the use of advanced stats in baseball writing.
“You can use the numbers to inform your opinion. No conversation that begins with ‘your numbers are stupid’ will end up well.” – Cameron
“BB-slash-K is not a word. There are still words for these things, and links that explain them.” – Neyer
“The last I looked, Don Larsen wasn’t in the Hall of Fame either,” Lederer on Jack Morris.
“Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda could run into each other on tricycles and this Mariners team would be the worst team ever,” Cameron on tragic tricycle accidents.
“It’s high time to get one of us in the Hall of Fame, and who better than Bill James.” – Lederer
And then the FanGraphs writers took the stage for a final question and answer. Unfortunately, yours truly was on the stage and the notes cease. Topics covered included the amount graphs still drive traffic at FanGraphs, what changes might be in store for ottoneu fantasy baseball, what the Rays might teach the Mets about health, and how to find just the right amount of snark to make baseball analysis work. A hearty thanks from all of the audience to all of the panelists and vice versa. That was a good night that bears repeating.