Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Laying Henry Chadwick to rest...The Seattle Times

Henry Chadwick developed the box score. Chadwick thought the batter should get no credit for a walk--which is why at-bats do not count walks, and why batting average is consequently scoffed on by mathematically literate baseball fans. Allan Roth, a statistician hired by Branch Rickey (he who developed the concept of a farm system and who signed Jackie Robinson), demonstrated in the 1960s that on-base percentage and slugging percentage were far superior measures of offensive production, and yet we still see Avg., RBI, and HR totals in most mainstream newsmedia today.

The Seattle Times is changing that. Jeff Angus, a member of the Northwest chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research who has recently begun writing a sabermetric column for the Times, reports that the Times will be featuring more sabermetric-friendly stats in print every Tuesday.

Angus also tells the NW SABR list-serve that:
    I think this is the first time a daily newspaper has run a full
    Sabermetric surrogate for the Leaders Tables. If it runs weekly as
    planned, I'm pretty confident it will be a first.
This is indeed an important step in bringing newer stats into a broader cultural awareness. Granted, we won't likely be hearing Rick Rizzs talk about Willie Bloomquist's OPS any time soon, but this is another important step in the right direction. Let's appreciate all that Chadwick did for Baseball, and then lay his antiquated statistics to rest.

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