My take on SABR-heads v the average fan

Republicans and Democrats. The Jets and the Sharks. Pokemon and Digimon. Some groups of people (or in the case of the latter, Japanese creations) will never get along. With the advancement of statistics in baseball over the past decade, another group of people that seemingly will never co-exist are SABR-heads and the average baseball fan.

The common fan loves the game. They are typically from an older generation, or young but have no taste for doing math outside the classroom. Baseball is a game they played growing up and is a game they love to watch. That’s all. They don’t want to analyze players or game theory- leave that to the GM’s and managers. Baseball is supposed to be fun and crunching numbers is not fun. It’s work. Baseball is not work.

The SABR-head also loves baseball. For the most part, most SABR-heads are from the current generation. College students and recent graduates or who love math. They may or may not have played baseball growing up, but they enjoy watching the game. However, it doesn’t stop there. The SABR-head loves to think and question things and crunch numbers. Instead of taking a managers move for granted, they question it. They question the game theory behind the move. Was it right to pinch-hit in that situation or not? And why? To them, the analysis of the game is just as fun as the game itself.

The saying is that “opposites attract” but that is not the case here. When it comes to baseball, there is a great divide between the SABR-heads and common fans. The two groups cannot co-exist- they hate each other with a passion. SABR-heads can take junk stats and “shove it down their ass”. The common fan “doesn’t know jack shit about anything and should never talk again”. Clearly these are two groups of people that cannot along.

Why?

When talking about the other group, each group says the other comes across arrogant. I can see that. The common fan throws stats aside like they are worthless. They don’t care at all for them and because of that, the SABR-head is an idiot. Therefore, the SABR thinks the common fan is arrogant or ignorant Since SABR-heads love stats, they throw them around like crazy. Because of that, there is a sense of feeling that they think they’re better than the common fan.

So who is to blame?

Both sides are to blame. I know there are individual cases on both sides where people do act reasonable and get along. But for the most part that doesn’t happen. There are blogs like Fire Joe Morgan that attack “idiotic writing”. In return, many other blogs and writers criticize the SABR-heads with columns lamenting “strange acronyms like WAR, UZR, and AKSDZHHZJWEU8WERW8E@$$”.

Really though, we should try to get along and put aside the stereotypes (common fans are jocks; SABR-heads are math nerds. I’ve played competitive baseball my whole life and still do). If you a SABR-head, try and have patience. Realize not everyone wants to get into stats. So if you’re in a conversation with someone like that, know your audience. Take it easy on them and don’t overload them with information and numbers.

At the same time, if you are a common fan and don’t want to worry about stats, that’s fine. I don’t care, it’s your choice. But do not criticize stats or call them worthless because you don’t want to take the time to understand them. If you are talking with a SABR-head, just realize the stats he is using are good and tell him you’re not into it. Don’t call them crappy. That leads to the contention between the groups. As a SABR-head, that is the most annoying thing about the common fan. I love talking baseball with the average person, but if they criticize any stats that I may bring up, that’s when the conversation is over.

So we can get along. SABR-heads need to cool it with the holier than thou attitude. The average fan needs to understand that advanced stats are good stats and not worthless, so there is no need to attack them because they may seem confusing and new and different than what you learned growing up. It will be tough at times to follow these guidelines and it will be difficult. But it’s for the best interest of both parties.

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