While former New York Yankees pitcher Goose Gossage unleashed his tirade on the deterioration of the unwritten rules of baseball and nerds ruining the sport about halfway through my writing of the paper, sentiments like his were inspiration for my topic: the evolution of statistics and data in baseball. By telling the story of how baseball data and statistics have evolved, my goal was to also demonstrate how they have been intertwined since the beginning—which would essentially mean that nerds have always been ruining the sport (if you subscribe to that kind of thought).
In the quest to showcase this, it was necessary to document how baseball prospers from numbers and numbers prosper from baseball. The relationship between the two is mutualistic. Furthermore, an all-encompassing historical look at how data and statistics in baseball have matured was a critical portion of the paper. With a metric such as batting average going from a radical new measure that posed a threat to the status quo, to a fiercely cherished statistic that was suddenly being unseated by advanced analytics, it shows the creation of new and destruction of old has been incessant. Innovators like Pete Palmer, Dick Cramer and Bill James played a large role in this process in the 1980s. Computers aided their effort and when paired with the Internet, unleashed the ability to crunch data to an even larger sector of the population. The unveiling of Statcast at the commencement of the 2015 season showed just how much potential there is for measuring previously unquantifiable baseball acts.
Essentially, there will always be people who mourn the presence of data and statistics in baseball. Despite this, the evolution story indicates baseball and numbers will be intertwined into the future, likely to an even greater extent than ever before, as technology and new philosophies become increasingly integrated into front offices and clubhouses.