You know how some of us don’t pay attention to batting average and RBI anymore? You know how Brian Kenny has been campaigning to stop assigning wins and losses to pitchers? We’re in both of those camps, because there are better, more accurate ways to measure ballplayers. We have wOBA and Runs Created. We have WAR and Win Shares. We have alternatives that are more descriptive and insightful. These are good things. In fact, let’s add one more statistic to the Discard Pile: Earned Run Average.
It’s time to retire ERA. Baseball analysts have put a lot of work into separating the true distinction between pitching and fielding by developing stats like FIP and Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. So why are we clinging to a statistic that does a poor job of separating the two? Why don’t we just replace ERA with RA, for all pitchers from now on?
Oh, sorry. That’s not what we actually wanted to write about today. It’s just that we’re baseball nerds—we can’t help ourselves. Let’s put a pin in that discussion.
What we really want to talk about is what you’re looking at right now: the new Hardball Times website. We wanted a new website design and structure that is easier on the eyes and more in line with current Internet standards. More importantly, we wanted a site that is focused on what we do best: write about baseball. We also wanted a site that highlights the nature of our deep complementary partnership with FanGraphs. We think this new design does all that and more.
Take a look around. At the top of the page, you’ll see that our primary navigation now includes a direct link to our bookstore. We’ve published 10 Annuals and several other books, and you can now find those more easily on the site. We’ve also made space on the top of the page for “Who We Are,” which includes our description and a list of authors.
There is also a link for “Tools,” which contains our world-renowned glossary, a list of reference articles and an archive of past THT blogs. The Tools section will grow. For instance, it will soon include the WPA Inquirer that was on the old site. Look for more features there, too. When the new season starts, we also plan to have a simplified set of in-season statistics for your pleasure.
Don’t worry. You’ll still find THT Live and THT Links on the home page. We hope you’ll like the new style, which has a classier font and graphics and a simpler layout. Most importantly, the layout emphasizes our new editorial approach, in which we now publish just one article per day.
In the past, THT has published several articles a day. We covered the gamut of baseball, from current events to history to fantasy to sabermetrics and what-have-you. From now on, we will be most focused on what we do best: singular articles that probe in-depth on a particular baseball subject. We plan to leave current events and fantasy topics to our partners at FanGraphs. In fact, many of the folks you have grown accustomed to reading here have already migrated over to FanGraphs, and you’ll find a list of the most recent FanGraphs articles on our home page.
On our site, you’ll find analysis, commentary and historical research as well as some fiction, infographics and poetry. We won’t try to cover the news; we’ll give you a fresh perspective on a timeless baseball subject each day. That’s our goal, and it’s not really different from our previous approach. We will just be more focused from now on.
Many writers who have been contributing to THT will continue to do so. Frank Jackson, who was just nominated for a SABR Analytics Award for this piece, will continue to contribute his terrific historical pieces. Azure Texan, soon to be known by his real name, will continue with his humorous take on things. Bruce Markusen, Shane Tourtellotte, Greg Simons, Jason Linden, Kyle Boddy, Brad Johnson and James Gentile also will stay on.
In addition, we’re going to be bringing over some of the writers you’re used to reading at the internet pages of FanGraphs. Bill Petti, Jeff Zimmerman, Steve Staude, Bradley Woodrum, Alex Remington, Patrick Dubuque, David G. Temple, Dan Farnsworth, Eno Sarris, Blake Murphy, Max Weinstein and others are going to be contributing here regularly.
We won’t be stopping there, of course. After a brief hiatus from both FanGraphs and THT, Matt Swartz is going to be contributing at THT once again, and we’re very excited about that. Derek Carty is coming home to THT, as well, and the incomparable Amanda Rykoff will be dropping knowledge for us whenever she is able. And there are definitely more surprises in store. We’ll find guest spots where we can. Our first–from Warren Corbett on the demise of Connie Mack’s ownership in Philadelphia–is a doozy. And we’re still recruiting, so if you have a pitch, hit us up. We’re not hard to find.
To kick this first month off, we’ve got some pretty neat stuff. Jeff Zimmerman is coming through with a breakdown of the new hang time data we have from Inside Edge. Matt Swartz is going to take a look at the new Japanese posting system. Bruce Markusen will check in with his a deluxe version of his Card Corner series, on a prominent former player turned manager. Steve Staude and Bill Petti are going to continue their work on statistical correlations and hitter volatility, respectively. Max Weinstein will seek to find a simpler, but still just as effective, way to calculate xBABIP. Patrick Dubuque wonders what became of a certain forgotten Moose, and David G. Temple will ruminate on the power of labels. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What we’re perhaps most excited about is that for the first time in THT history, we’ll be debuting a baseball novel here on the site. Longtime THT writer and editor Jason Linden is going to take you on a journey, and each installment will be accompanied by an original illustration from friend of the site, Brooke Howell. We’d say that we hope you’ll be as excited about this as we are, but that’s simply not possible.
Of course, this all didn’t just come together overnight. First and foremost, we have to thank David Appelman. He rarely steps out of the shadows, but FanGraphs’ president and founder is always busy behind the boards, striving to put forth the best product possible. Second, we have to thank our amazing production team, Mike Petriello (yes, that Mike Petriello, he is one talented dude), who produced and developed the site, and Stephen Caver, who provided a fantastic design. We asked them for some very specific things, and they delivered every time. Actually, “asked” might not be the right word–“pestered,” “badgered” or “harangued” are probably more accurate. And finally, a big thank you goes to our writers and especially to the site’s editors, Joe Distelheim, Greg Simons, and Jason Linden. This has been a major project, and it wouldn’t have happened without their devotion.
On some days, we’ll have posts that delve into the deepest realms of sabermetrics. On others, we’ll have more light-hearted fare, or work that is fictional in nature. On still others, we’ll have biting and/or insightful commentary, or explorations through baseball’s history. Some articles will be many of these things at once. But no matter the topic, it is our goal to continue to provide you with the same thought-provoking content that we’ve provided you with since 2004. Baseball. Insight. Daily. Our focus has changed, and we have a fresh coat of paint, but the mission is unwavering. See you tomorrow.