## “Sabermetrics for Dummies”: Mainstream Media Style

Jason Collette and Tommy Rancel talking with J.B. Long from the Bright House Sports Network.

Rarely do you ever see a mainstream media outlet take the time to discuss sabermetric stats. Every now and then you’ll see a passing reference to WAR or FIP on ESPN, but the announcers have a maximum of 30 seconds to introduce the statistic, explain what it means, and make their point. These mentions are great for general awareness of sabermetric statistics, but do they actually educate anyone? They can make be a good introduction to a statistic and make someone curious to learn more – and don’t get me wrong, I love when mainstream news sources mention saber stats – but to truly educate someone about sabermetrics takes more than that.

Enter the Bright House Sports Network. Â While Bright House is a major sports network in the Tampa Bay area, covering topics ranging from national sports stories to local high school teams, they’ve begun augmenting their baseball coverage with some sabermetric analysis. Jason Collette, Tommy Rancel, and R.J. Anderson – three premier Rays bloggers – contributed articles on the BHSN website during the later half of the 2010 season, using their analyses as a springboard for readers to become familiarized with advanced statistics.

And now, Bright House is taking it a step further:Â filming “Sabermetrics for Dummies” videos with Jason, Tommy, and reporter J.B. Long. This first video is a mere introduction to the series, but more videos will be released this week and the topics will include wOBA, BABIP, LOB%, WAR, IsoP, and FIP. These are extended videos, with the idea of explaining to viewers how the sabermetric stats are calculated and why they are useful.

Is it just me or is this rather unique? Has any other mainstream sports station done something similar?Â I’d love to hear examples of other media outlets doing similar projects (please share!), but at least to my knowledge, the Bright House Sports Network is ahead of the curve.

## Left On Base Percentage (LOB%): A Video Explanation

Analyzing pitchers is one of the most difficult things to do in baseball (at least, in the “non-playing” category). Pitchers are notoriously fickle, and their performances can vary widely from start to start and year to year. They don’t follow a set aging curve like position players (who peak at ages 27-30), but improve and decline with no overarching pattern. Some pitchers are late-bloomers and don’t peak until their 30s (e.g. Randy Johnson), while others peak in their early 20s and never reach the same level again (e.g. Scott Kazmir).

Not to mention, when you try analyzing a pitcher’s results, there are so many variables in play. How much of a pitcher’s performance is his talent shining through, and how much is the defense, opposing team, umpire, catcher, and ballpark? With noÂ discernibleÂ difference in his pitch movement, sequencing, or velocity, a pitcher may let up 8 runs in four innings during one start yet turn around and throw an 8 inning shutout his next time out. How much of that variance should we pin on the pitcher and how much is outside his control?

These are all difficult questions without any exact answer, which is why there are a large number of pitching statistics available here at FanGraphs. In order to see past those confounding variables and get a grasp on a pitcher’s true talent level, it’s best to look at a wide range of statistics instead of relying upon one as the be-all-end-all. ERA, FIP, tERA, xFIP, BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB – all these stats tell you something different and paint a more complete picture when used together.

And so, here’s a chance to learn a bit more about one of those statistics: Left On Base Percentage (LOB%). This video is courtesy of Bradley Woodrum from DRaysBay and Tom Tango from The Book Blog: