SABR Boston Chapter Meeting Presentation and RecapJan 29, 2014 by Adam Darowski
Last week, I was invited to talk about the Hall of Stats at SABR’s annual Boston Chapter Meeting on Martin Luther King Day. It was a stacked lineup, (somehow) featuring me third in the batting order behind Dan Brooks and Tommy Harper and before Peter Gammons and John Farrell.
I’m going to admit—I was quite nervous when I walked into the Baseball Tavern. In my little corner of the Twitter world, I’m often preaching to the saber choir (fellow stat geeks). This was the full-fledged SABR choir—a crowd much older, more experienced, somewhat less statistically inclined, and far less likely to listen to CHVRCHES. The place was packed with researchers, former scouts, book authors, and more. Meanwhile, I’m just some guy who made a website with his friends.
Luckily, I found a couple friendly faces right away, as both Dan McCloskey (@_LeftField) and Bryan O’Connor (@replevel) came down for the event. Dan snapped this photo as I gave my presentation:
The headliner of my weekend: @baseballtwit talks about @HallOfStats at @sabr Boston meeting. pic.twitter.com/6T0FjBapWf— Dan McCloskey (@_LeftField) January 20, 2014
It helps to set expectations—I introduced myself as “the guy they invited before they had any confirmed speakers—but then it was too awkward to ask me not to speak”.
I’m happy to report that it went well. The audience asked a ton of great questions and people seemed to genuinely enjoy it. I’m not sure if they agreed with everything, but they were certainly open-minded. Last night, I recorded the talk so I could share it with all of you (check it out at the top of this post).
Some key topics I covered:
- 18 players on this past Hall of Fame ballot had Hall Ratings of 100 or better—and four others under 100 also garnered support (that’s 22 legitimate candidates!).
- Why Bert Blyleven deserved the 1973 Cy Young Award over Jim Palmer.
- Why Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina have higher Hall Ratings than Tom Glavine.
- Why Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker have higher Hall Rstings than Frank Thomas.
- An extended look at the unique and Hall-worthy career of Larry Walker.
- Why many players outside the Hall reach not only the Hall of Fame standard, but also the BBWAA standard.
In a follow-up email to members of the SABR Boston Chapter, co-chair Joanna Hulbert offered this assessment of my talk:
Then along came Adam Darowski, creator of Hall of Stats (.com), and here we go, more stat stuff. And he was just as approachable and understandable as Dan [Brooks]. He used a lot of math - but was not intimidating. I learned a lot. Here he made WAR totally understandable to the sabrmetrically challenged. What could be bad? Nothing! See his website! Great stuff, no regrets.
I love hearing that I’m able to make WAR understandable. While the WAR framework may not be perfect, I think it has been a huge step forward for sabermetrics—particularly for historical comparisons. I know that WAR is what turned me into a baseball writer and historian.
Thanks again to Daigo Fujiwara for inviting me to speak, David Laurila for making me feel at home, and the entire SABR Boston Chapter for listening to me talk about stats.
Please check out the video and let me know what you think. Thanks!