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Sabermetrics In The Mainstream

When browsing the headlines at Baseball Think Factory this morning, one jumped out – Why Haven’t Sabermetrics Gone Mainstream? My first reaction was “they have”. I mean, really, let’s take a look at the baseball world today.

The Wall Street Journal started a sports page about a month ago. I have a piece in there today, and Carl Bialik wrote about Matthew’s work on Ryan Madson‘s change-up. I’d imagine most people would consider this to be something of a sabermetric website, and the Wall Street Journal to be fairly mainstream.

The media is definitely on board – ESPN employs Rob Neyer and Keith Law as two of their main baseball writers. Karl Ravech was talking about PECOTA the other night. John Dewan has had numerous features done while promoting The Fielding Bible II. Sports Illustrated just did a story on the rise of defense in baseball. You can’t get away from mainstream media coverage of ideas that were generated in the sabermetric community.

It’s even more pervasive in MLB itself. Obviously, everyone knows about how the A’s operate thanks to Moneyball, but the links between the organizations and this community of baseball analysts are growing tighter by the day. The Tampa Bay Rays now employ James Click and Chaim Bloom, who got their start at Baseball Prospectus, along with former FanGraphs writer Peter Bendix and Pitch F/x guru Josh Kalk. The Seattle Mariners hired Tom Tango over the winter, and have created an entire department of baseball research that they’re filling with sabermetrics kids. The Indians have Keith Woolner, among others. The Pirates hired Dan Fox. The list goes of people hired by MLB organizations from the internet baseball community is remarkably extensive.

The struggle for legitimacy is over. Sabermetrics has been accepted as a fairly large part of baseball. Maybe not by everyone, but by most of the people who are in positions of influence. For better or worse, this isn’t a bunch of outsiders struggling to get their voice heard over the shouting mob anymore. This little brand of baseball analysis that we all enjoy has crossed over.