For the past few weeks, our friends over at Beyond the Box Score have been doing some work putting together their “Sabermetric Writing Awards.” Readers nominated articles and authors for seven different categories, some of which included best applied research article, best researcher or writer, and best new online resource. The voting works like this: 50% of the weight goes to the online balloting, which is going on right now. The other 50% of the vote is an “internal” vote. Because many of BtB’s writers were nominated for awards, they were ineligible to vote on the category. As such, some guest voters were asked to be part of the “internal” vote. I am honored to be one of those people included.
In the spirit of Hall of Fame voting, I would like to go through my ballot category by category, explaining some things along the way. What kind of sabermetrician would I be if I didn’t? Don’t answer that.
The voting was done more like Hall of Fame voting than, say, MVP or Cy Young voting. We were asked simply to check off a box (as many as you wish). Despite that, I did have my favorite in each category. So what I’ll do here is show which choice was my first, and then show a “best of the rest” for each category. Feel free to criticize my choices in the comments.
1. Best novel sabermetric research article or project
My pick: Josh Kalk, The Injury Zone
Also chosen: Victor Wang—Valuing a Draft; Mike Fast—Confessions of a DIPS Apostate
In choosing Josh Kalk’s piece here, I feel that I’m really emphasizing the “novel” part of this category. Kalk’s piece is so unique and potentially groundbreaking, that for me it had to be the choice for his category. Nobody (that I know of) has done anything since with regard to pitch f/x and injuries that even approaches what Kalk did in this article. I picked this not so much the conclusions he drew, but for the process. Victor Wang ‘s draft valuations are a great resource as well, and were a big step in our ability to better quantify amateur and minor league player values.
2. Best applied sabermetric research article or project
My pick: Jeremy Greenhouse, Holliday-Bay: Visual Scouting Reports
Also chosen: Nick Steiner—What do stats tell us?; Sky Kalkman—Which is Better Compensation: Prospects or Draft Picks?
Read Jeremy’s piece and you’ll know exactly why I voted for him. There weren’t a whole lot of innovative techniques, but the sheer volume of information you can get from one of Jeremy’s “visual scouting reports” is incredible. To paraphrase one of the comments: This is the kind of information people would pay for.
The presentation of Nick Steiner’s article is such that the reader is able to look at his graphs and charts and attempt figure out answers for himself. Though it’s just a start (he’s only gotten to looking at Burnett and Washburn so far), this series could go a long way. Sky Kalkman’s article fits this category perfectly. He uses the work of others (mainly Wang and Sky Andrecheck) and puts it to the test to answer a pretty important question.
Picking between these two is really a matter of philosophy, and so I figured I’d just call it a tie. In my mind, both are nearly flawless. The problem is, they cater to different market segments, making a comparison difficult. Cameron’s is more for the person who already knows a little something about sabermetrics, while Remington’s is intended as an introductory series explaining several advanced stats. I’m curious to see which of these wins in the actual balloting.
4. Best sabermetric commentary article
My pick: Matt Klaassen (devil_fingers): Ken Rosenthal, ‘Sabermetric Group Think,’ and the 2009 American League MVP Debate
Also chosen: Colin Wyers—Replacement level, again; Dave Cameron—The Marginal Value of a Win
This category gave me the most trouble, probably since the choices were on such a wide variety of topics. I ended up going with the writer formerly known as devil_fingers’ take-down of Ken Rosenthal’s anti-sabermetric stance. Gotta show some love for someone who’s willing to take a stand for his people in the face of one of the MSM’s biggest names. And he managed to keep it civil. Colin’s and Cameron’s articles were actually on similar topics, and I thought both were good reading. Before you criticize your team for paying a player more than his fWAR says he’s worth, read those two articles.
5. Best sabermetric researcher or writer
My pick: Colin Wyers
Also chosen: Jeff Zimmerman (Tucson Royal), Dave Allen, Dave Cameron, Sky Andrecheck, Max Marchi
I’ll do this section bullet-point style (no particular order after #1):
—Colin Wyers: Combination of writing ability and technical research made him an easy choice for me
—Jeff Zimmerman: Consistently puts out high quality material with several good original ideas
—Dave Allen: Tons of original, innovative pitch f/x presentations and “other stuff” that isn’t found anywhere else. Awesome work.
—Dave Cameron: You’d be hard pressed to find a writer with a better feel for the pulse of the baseball analysis world.
—Sky Andrecheck: Almost every article he writes seems like it would take weeks to accomplish.
—Max Marchi: Always an interesting read. He seems to look at pitch f/x in a way that few else do.
6. Best sabermetric writing/research website
My pick: The Hardball Times
You may think I’m biased, and there’s a chance you’re right. But I firmly believe that THT’s combination of blog-style postings, in-depth fantasy analysis, and feature-length articles set us apart from any other sabermetric website.
7. Best new online sabermetric resource
My pick: Rally’s rWAR,
Also chosen: FanGraphs’ implementation of UZR, wOBA, wRC, wRC+, and WAR
Rally’s WAR database is and will be a valuable resource for years to come. It is the only one of its kind, and it is loaded with tons of information. I don’t think there has been a dissatisfied user yet.
If you’d like to share your vote, please do so in the comments section. Or just rip my choices, whichever works.