Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has an interesting and
long in-depth piece today about sabermetrician Voros McCracken, the father of defense-independent pitching statistics (DIPS), which concluded that pitchers are responsible for three things and three things only: strikeouts, walks and home runs. Everything else on that happens on the baseball diamond — including hits — involves other players, as well as chance.
A decade after Baseball Prospectus let McCracken spread the gospel in a story that popularized DIPS across the sport, it remains among the most seminal theories developed by sabermetrics, the nickname given to quantitative baseball study. It’s almost certainly the most revolutionary. Nothing before or since has so upended an entire line of thought and forced teams to assess a wide breadth of players in a different fashion.
The Red Sox hired McCracken earlier this decade, but let go of him following the 2005 draft. All he has left from his time here was a watch the team gave him following the ’04 World Series. (Weren’t they handing out rings like candy back then?)
Anyway, it’s a tremendous read about a guy seen as revolutionary in the sabermetrics world, yet still fighting and seeking a job. But clearly, John Henry is going to be knocking on his door again after reading this.
He knows there’s another million-dollar idea in his head…
So he watches soccer and tries to solve unique problems for … “I’m sorry,” he says. “I just can’t tell you.” The excitement of the gig doesn’t exactly match the mystery. McCracken is working on tweaking a faulty prediction system. It’s edifying enough. The market for sabermetrics in soccer is ripe — Beane does consulting work with clubs — so it should pay the rent for a while. McCracken is going to Europe this week to meet his boss. He’s never been before. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a DIPS waiting to be found across the pond.
Well played, Voros. Well played.