Greetings, associates and readers.
My identify is Michael Baumann, and I’m the most recent full-time member of the FanGraphs workers. If the identify rings a bell, it’s most likely since you bear in mind the dropping pitcher within the first sport of Monday’s Orioles-Blue Jays doubleheader. Sadly that’s a distinct, a lot taller Mike Baumann. (Although I’ve met Large Mike, and he looks as if a pleasant man. What a fastball he’s received.)
From 2016 till final week, I used to be a workers author at The Ringer, the place for six years I hosted The Ringer MLB Present. Earlier than that, I labored at D1Baseball, Baseball Prospectus, and Grantland. Over that point I’ve appeared periodically on each FanGraphs Audio and Successfully Wild; when you bear in mind some joker with a Philly accent explaining to Ben how hockey works or ranting at Meg concerning the lockout, that was most likely me. I’m an Aries, and in my free time I take pleasure in cooking, watching TikToks about seals, and studying nonfiction books about individuals doing ludicrously dangerous things in the early 20th century.
However what am I doing right here?
A pair weeks in the past, I used to be watching a baseball sport on TV when a left-handed hitter poked a ball across the shift for a single. The colour commentator, a former main league participant, coach, and entrance workplace govt, responded the best way most colour commentators do when somebody evades the shift: How can The Analytics Folks assume shifting is the appropriate factor to do when it’s really easy to go the opposite means?
Now, there’s nothing novel about that argument; I’ve been listening to it since I used to be merely studying FanGraphs whereas goldbricking at my first job out of faculty roughly 100 years in the past. So have all of you. The commentator went on to bemoan the de-emphasis of advance scouting amongst huge league groups, which he argued would seize hitters’ proclivities higher than some nerds with a spreadsheet may (my cliché, not his). An advance scout who sees a sport will take notes and mark down tendencies. However put these notes right into a database, do some arithmetic, and like Beethoven on the computer, you have labored to produce analytics — merely the quantification of what we will see and measure.
That was the counterargument 10 years in the past, and by and enormous it nonetheless holds water. However an advance scout might need observed that the batter in query had utterly overhauled his method this summer season. He’s not the identical hitter he was even three months in the past. Possibly the scouting report missed that new growth, or perhaps the individuals who laid out the defensive alignment knew concerning the method change and determined shifting was nonetheless the proportion play anyway. The purpose is that this: It’s not sufficient to go along with your intestine anymore, or to unquestioningly comply with the numbers. Baseball is simply too good. Society is simply too good. It’s now not sufficient to know what occurs, however why and the way as nicely.
I’ve by no means appreciated “analytics” as a catch-all time period; it flattens quantitative analysis — sound and in any other case, carried out for good functions and evil — into one epistemic monolith. And that’s merely not the case; the good so-called “analytics” outfits realized early on that the proper method is just not numerical however empirical. They make the most of numbers, in addition to scouting, interviews, case research, and so forth. That’s why FanGraphs has hosted and cultivated such a wide range of methodological viewpoints for thus a few years. All of that info is not only worthwhile for a complete understanding of baseball, however needed.
You must know the whole lot. Quantitative and qualitative information, stats and scouting, present occasions and historical past. And since baseball displays and interfaces with society, you need to know economics, politics, and philosophy as nicely. It’s all a part of the large image. My method, so to talk, is that this: To inform the fullest empirically sound story I can, and to deal with the sport’s human factor — from gamers to followers — with respect and dignity. And to have as a lot enjoyable as doable alongside the best way. It’s a sport, in any case.
I’m thrilled and greater than slightly humbled to be working with such a talented and clever group of writers and editors, a number of of whom I’ve referred to as associates for years and admired even longer than that. And I’m equally excited to serve such a passionate and well-informed readership, although it’s been some time since I’ve written for a publication that has a feedback part, so please be light. I look ahead studying with all of you.