Table of Contents
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGUING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Costa, Gabriel B.
Understanding sabermetrics : an introduction to the science of baseball statistics / Gabriel B. Costa, Michael R. Huber and John T. Saccoman. p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
softcover : 50# alkaline paper
1. Baseball. 2. Baseball — Statistics. 3. Baseball — Miscellanea . I. Huber, Michael R., 1960- II. Saccoman, John T., 1964- III. Title.
796.357 — dc22
British Library cataloguing data are available
©2008 Gabriel B. Costa, Michael R. Huber and John T. Saccoman. All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Cover image ©2008 Shutterstock
Manufactured in the United States of America
To Giovanni Bernardone and
George Herman Ruth, my heroes
Gabriel B. Costa
To Erwin Huber, my father;
Teresa, my wife; and
Nick, Kirstin and Steffi, my children
Michael R. Huber
To Ryan Mario Saccoman, my son;
Mary Erin Saccoman, my wife; and
Willie Howard Mays, my all-time favorite player
John T. Saccoman
MY NAME IS GABE COSTA. I am a Catholic priest and a mathematician, and I have been crazy about baseball since 1958, when I first learned about the game at the age of ten. At the time of this writing, I am on an extended academic leave from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Seton Hall University, presently teaching mathematics at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, where I also assist the post chaplains. Toward the end of these acknowledgments, you will hear from my coauthors, Mike Huber of Muhlenberg College and John T. Saccoman of Seton Hall University.
In a sense, this book came about because of my oldest friend, Frank Mottola. We met in 1953 in the kindergarten at Sadie F. Leinkauf School in Hoboken, New Jersey. Frank and I have been friends ever since. In the early 1980s, Frank mentioned something about a book titled
The Bill James Baseball Abstract
; in fact, he gave me several annual editions. It was James who introduced the term “sabermetrics” (derived from SABR, the acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research), defining it as the search for objective knowledge about baseball
After I devoured these books, I approached the academic and administrative leaders at Seton Hall University with a proposal to teach a new one-credit course: MATH 1011: Sabermetrics.
Through the efforts of Dr. Dan Gross, Dr. Jane Norton and Dr. John J. Saccoman (the father of one of the coauthors of this book), Seton Hall approved the course for the 1988 winter session. I believe that this was one of the first (if not
first) Sabermetrics courses ever offered for college or university credit. And the course is still running. We are indebted to these three educators for their support. In 1996, United States Army Lieutenant Colonel William Fox (now retired), his associate Major Mike Huber (now a retired lieutenant colonel) and I introduced a three-credit course at West Point on sabermetrics — MA 488, which is still offered.
While this book is partially an outgrowth of these courses, it is primarily motivated by love and desire: a love for the game of baseball, and a desire to introduce the reader to the rudiments of Sabermetrics. Our goal has been to provide the reader with a sufficient number of quantitative instruments to assist him/her with the measurements of the accomplishments of individual players and various teams, while at the same time providing a qualitative backdrop which would assist objective evaluations. Walking this line was not always easy, but we trust that those who enjoy statistics will be satisfied with our expositions and that our mathematical rigor will also be appreciated by fans who do not necessarily wish to follow every nuance of the mathematical details. With the exception of the first chapter, the last chapter and the appendix, we have pretty much kept the mathematics to basic arithmetic, statistics and a bit of algebra. We assure you that you will not find any references to the fundamental theorem of calculus.
Each of the three of us has his own way of writing. We have tried to unify our approach, but the reader will undoubtedly notice differences in our styles. We trust that this will give the reader different perspectives for looking at the game of baseball. The reader will also find that some chapters are longer than others, due to the nature of the topics. We have titled most of them “innings”; some innings (really
-innings) are completed quickly with three pitches, while others take much time. Furthermore, we have purposely left some questions unanswered, leaving the reader to arrive at his/her own conclusions.
Because more and more institutions of higher learning are offering courses related to sabermetrics (e.g., Bowling Green State University, Tufts University and others), we have provided the reader with a number of problems at the end of each chapter, the purpose of which is to illustrate the salient points of the specific topics which have been covered in that chapter. We trust the reader will have fun answering these baseball questions while strengthening his/her ability to reason “sabermetrically.”