John writes one of those tough screeds that sound, about halfway through, like the complaining crap of an old man. But John isn’t nearly as old as he thinks he is, and what he’s writing about is something I hope all of us who care about baseball and stats and the data have already thought about.
The point is that thanks to Pitch FX and the efforts of BIS and MLB and everyone else scoring baseball games,we’re getting a ton more information about every pitch in every major league game. And the automation of this process promises even more in the coming years.
Much of this data, thanks to MLB by the way, is available to everyone, and so it has become a happy sandbox for baseball fans with a fondness for math.
John’s gripe, if you can call it that, is that all these analysts are sorting through the data and ending up with micro conclusions that don’t really mean much to someone watching any particular game.
What I would add is that we know an awful lot about baseball because of the things we’ve learned before this great outpouring of pitch by pitch data. Much of what we learn after all the new data has been processed and tested and used is going to support the observations of those who watched the game closely before all the data was known.
When I’m grumpy I wonder why I’m reading yet another study that confirms what we already knew about this or that baseball situation. But that doesn’t mean those studies aren’t important. We gain the most knowledge by testing everything, each situation and contingency and viewpoint, and then see what shakes out. Confirmation means as much as a fresh idea.
Despite all the noise out there, that’s what’s happening now. John recognizes that, but he’s honest enough to point out that it makes him weary. Me, too.