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Interweb: Baseball Analysts: Baseball Without the Numbers

Larry Borowsky, author of SportsBlogs' great Cardinals site Viva El Birdos, wrote a wonderful guest article at The Baseball Analysts last week called "Baseball Without the Numbers", to wit:

For whatever reason, I looked at this guy and thought, Here comes a base knock, and seconds later he rapped it on one hop to the centerfielder to load the bases. The ensuing batter gave off the same vibe - "hit" - and he got one, too, chasing two runs home. But there was something off about the hitter up next - a little too broad, maybe, or too blocky in his motions; maybe too far forward in his stance. "Grounder to short," I mused, and sure enough he hit it right there - another run scored on the force out.

How seldom we watch baseball this way in the post-James, post-Rotisserie, post-Moneyball era - without the collar of numbers tugging our perceptions into line. If you're younger than 30, you probably don't know what it's like to sit in ignorance of platoon splits and win expectancy and value over replacement; and if you're older you may well have forgotten. When we watch baseball today - in person, on TV, via the Web - we expect to be fed a steady diet of data, and augment the supply from our own warehouses. Sometimes the numbers help us understand and anticipate; at other times, they're just background noise. But their omnipresence shapes the way we follow the action. They condition what we look for, hence what we see.

Do yourself a favor and go read the rest. Whether you're a seamhead or a baseball traditionalist, Larry's column is poignant and topical, and a must-read for any baseball fan.