Your Sabermetric Choices

I’ve seen some stories floating around the blogosphere which relate to the choices you have when it comes to your baseball stats. In general, the stories have been directed at the SIERA metric, which was unveiled in great detail last week. Overall, the reception was very positive and we’re really glad Matt Swartz agreed to work with us.

Here at FanGraphs, we’re about expanding baseball knowledge and enjoyment through opinion and analysis. Obviously, we think adding SIERA to the site brought something new to the table and we wouldn’t have added it had we thought otherwise.

That’s not to say that reasonable people can’t disagree. If you think one ERA estimator is too complex and is ruining baseball, that’s fine. You’re welcome to use another of our myriad statistics. I’m sure you’ll find one that works for you. From our perspective, our variety is our strength. Whether you use FIP, xFIP, tERA, SIERA or plain, old ERA to judge pitchers, the whole point of this site is to heighten your knowledge — and enjoyment — of baseball.

For those of you who don’t know how FanGraphs selects its statistics, it should be noted that we don’t develop in-house figures. We look around and edit down the incredibly large selection of metrics being created and then select the ones that have the most relevance. We work closely with those statistics’ creators to make sure things are calculated and displayed properly.

Denouncing work by claiming it’s anti-baseball does everyone a diservice. No one is forcing our readers to use these numbers. In fact, I hope you look at them critically and let us know how we can make them better. I’m betting that improvements would mean more — not less — statistical investigation, critical thinking and debate among the thousands of baseball fans who visit our site daily.

Whether you like your baseball full of complex stats or void of stats entirely, there’s a place for you at FanGraphs. And, in my mind, that’s exactly how it should be.




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David Appelman is the creator of FanGraphs.

36 Responses to “Your Sabermetric Choices”

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  1. Jacob Smith says:

    Completely agree. I think SIERA is a great addition, and it begins to poke at the even deeper interrelations between surface stats, 2nd level stats, and deeper. Glad FanGraphs chose to pick it up.

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  2. StolenMonkey86 says:

    The “save” statistic is anti-baseball.

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  3. Ben says:

    Keeping this many straw men in one place has got to be a fire hazard.

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  4. My echo and bunnymen says:

    I agree 100% on the fact that anyone can use this site no matter what site they use, however, I dislike that both sabermetric and traditional folks tend to ignore that they have to change nothing to get anything out of this site. I hope this site keeps up the good work, it’s obvious some things are changing: Sporting News features stats, ESPN is starting to use it somewhat, and MLB Network is at least bringing it up. Ultimately good logic an sound math win in the end, I think the past 100 years of U.S./World History is proof of that.
    On those notes I love FIP, ISO, and wOBA because I know how they are calculated and it’s incredibly simple to explain these stats to others. However, I was wondering if, whether in notgraphs or fangraphs, we could have some of the writers discuss ways in which they discuss baseball between the two very different types of fan? Or would that generally be a waste of time?

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    • Matt says:

      I think that would be a good article. I know from personal experience most of the people I talk baseball with are traditional old school fans that cite things like RBIs and fielding percentage when talking about a player. If I bring up something like UZR or WAR to them it’s like I’m talking Klingon to them. Lord knows what would happen if I started throwing SIERRA and wOBA at them, my guess is their heads would explode.

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    • williams .482 says:

      Steve Slowinski did a couple of articles in that vein earlier this year.

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  5. TheGrandSlamwich says:

    When making fantasy decisions I look at just about any stat I can find beforehand.

    The variety offered by Fangraphs and other sites are all very much appreciated!

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  6. Blizzard says:

    Please invent a statistic using a lineup analysis tool that tells me how many runs a lineup of 9 Albert Pujols would score. Or 9 Yuniesky’s would score. “Pujols is a 7.2 run hitter” or Yuniesky is a 1.4 run hitter” sounds like something even someone who has never paid attention to the game can understand.

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  7. Dylan says:

    SIERA is my favorite ERA estimator out there. I think FIP and xFIP give too little credit to pitchers and

    Of course, I may be, and probably am given the fact that plenty of people who study this way more than I do disagree, completely wrong. And that’s why I love the variety on this site. So, thanks for that FanGraphs editors.

    One addition I’d absolutely love to see: Pitcher WAR based on a combination FIP, xFIP, SIERA, tERA, and even ERA, I would think the more good perspectives on an imperfect measurement, the better it will be (same with fielding, which is best judged using a combination of the different stats out there).

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    • KJOK says:

      I agree with the pitching WAR suggestion, maybe something like:

      All Inclusive Pitching WAR
      Defense Independent Pitching WAR
      Defense and situation (strand rate) independent Pitching WAR?

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      • Matthew Cornwell says:

        FIP or SIERA for the first 1-3 seasons. RA adjusted for defense after about 8-9 seasons. And a combination of the two from seasons 4-7.

        The problem is, people get so dogmatic about their tool of choice that they stubbornly use them when it is no longer the most beneficial, i.e. using xFIP based WAR when there are enough PA’s to accept a pitcher’s BABIP, HR/FB rate, and strand rate as being “true.”

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        I don’t see how accumulating enough PA’s can eliminate the effects of ballpark and defense.

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      • Phillie697 says:

        Or, adjusting a stat to account for the 3 pitchers that may have a Matt Cain effect. Until someone can definitively show how Matt Cain is doing it, all attempts to adjust for his “ability” are just guesses.

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  8. Ari Berkowitz says:

    Have you ever thought about adding Minor League batted ball data?

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  9. M says:

    Wow Dave, you need a hug after Colin’s article? You seem a little upset. Also, maybe you could respond to some of the criticisms made as opposed to accusing others of saying SIERA is “anti-baseball”?

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    • If you’re interested in reading what Matt had to say about that article you can find that here:

      http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/siera_updated/#10

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      • M says:

        Thanks, I did see Matt’s comments over there, I would just like to see it up here as there are probably a lot of casual readers who don’t hang out at the Book Blog. I think the debate is good and should be as accessible as possible. And I found the “anti-baseball” comment to frame the debate as “us vs. them” as opposed to differing ideas and methods. This is a pretty interesting issue and I don’t want it to be perceived as two sites bickering, when there is plenty we can learn from the discussions

        Also, I would like to apologize for the douchiness of my original comment, I just reread it and did not mean for it to come off so harsh (I swear the hug comment sounded playful in my head). I blame it on the hangover and lack of sleep. Obviously, I have tremendous respect for you and the writers here (they significantly reduce my performance at work on a daily basis).

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      • MM says:

        I’m guessing the anti-baseball comment was more in response to Graham MacAree’s thinly veiled attack of SIERA as the sort of research that ruins sabermetrics.

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      • Sivart says:

        I’d agree that the “anti-baseball” comment was directed toward MacAree’s post, since he made tonnes of emotional appeals that basically said such research was killing the soul of baseball.

        I tore Graham’s post apart. It was really a very poorly written piece that was overflowing with logical fallacies. It’s not even worth the space on fangraphs.

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  10. Kirkwood says:

    Let’s avoid groupthink and keep developing new and critically evaluating current statistics. SIERA today, something better tomorrow.

    If there’s one thing sabermetrics have taught us, it’s that we NEVER know the whole story. We just need to keep digging deeper.

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  11. Andy says:

    Would love to see xbabip on these fine electronic pages.

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  12. DavidJ says:

    “Whether you use FIP, xFIP, tERA, SIERA or plain, old ERA to judge pitchers, the whole point of this site is to heighten your knowledge — and enjoyment — of baseball.”

    Plain old runs-allowed-per-nine-innings (RA, or RA9 as Tango likes to call it) remains a glaring omission. Many people prefer it to ERA as the most basic run-prevention stat for pitchers, and yet it’s surprisingly difficult to find (it doesn’t seem to be listed either here or at baseball-reference). I would love to see it added.

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  13. Kris says:

    Ruben Sierra…

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