Jul 16, 2008, 06:24AM

Stat Obsession Spreads To College Baseball

As statistical analysis and interpretation has become a major factor in Major League Baseball, the trend has moved on to the NCAA. As formulas and statistical processes evolve and develop, the technological age is becoming more and more enmeshed in the athletic world.

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Photo courtesy of www.popsci.com

For most of baseball history, stats have been easy to follow.

A good hitter has a batting average around .300 and a good pitcher has an earned run average under 3.00.

But over the past three decades, the sport has gone through a statistical revolution, with more advanced formulas surfacing and more people paying attention to them.

These stats, usually referred to as "sabermetrics ," named after the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), have begun to take hold in the college game, too. Web sites like SaberScouting.com, CollegeSplits.com and TheCollegeBaseballBlog.com are part of a growing contingent of outlets using sabermetrics to analyze college baseball.

"We're looking at advanced college stats as a helpful tool," said Frankie Piliere , editor of SaberScouting.com. "More and more it's becoming something we look at."

Gophers head baseball coach John Anderson said his staff charts everything from pitch and hit location to the number of well-hit balls a player hits in batting practice .

Those numbers are put into a computer each week, and Anderson's players are given a printout of the stats and charts that they can't find in box scores.

"The statistical information today is just so comprehensive that we can do so much more with it," Anderson said. "We have a computer program that tells you a guy's averages with runners in scoring position, or right versus left, and anything else you can think of. It gives you better evidence than we've had before of how people are doing."

In 1977 , a 28-year-old writer named Bill James wrote "The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract ," in which he introduced some of his new mathematic baseball ideas. James, who coined the term "sabermetrics ," has been the movement's biggest catalyst ever since, developing most of the popular sabermetric stats in use today.


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