The game of baseball is no longer just about home runs, strikeouts, earned runs and batting average.
The introduction of Sabermetrics to America’s pastime has revolutionized the game not only for stat geeks and fantasy nerds, but players as well.
Take Brandon McCarthy of the Arizona Diamondbacks for example, a product of the Oakland Athletics organization where Sabermetrics is a mainstay in general manager Billy Beane’s formula for how to build a winning team.
However, McCarthy doesn’t use stats such as fielding independent pitching (FIP) — a measurement of plays in the field out of a pitcher’s control compared to plays he can control, such as walks and strikeouts — or batting average on balls in play (BABIP) — measures the percentage of balls hitters put in play that result in base hits — to build rosters like his old GM. He uses them to gain an edge on opposing batters by analyzing their statistics, as well as his own.
McCarthy explained his reasoning behind doing so to Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo.
“A lot of it is just … the more smart information the better,” he said. “A lot of things in baseball are done by feel or gut of kind of sticking with what you’ve done and it just became less and less acceptable to me that I was just going to keep playing out my career with doing things the way I had always done them.”
The 29-year-old missed the 2010 season due to injury and almost gave up the game of baseball before signing with the A’s in December 2010. There, McCarthy changed his game and experienced success going 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA and posting the lowest FIP in the American League.
“I decided to change everything and fit a different model, try and kind of change everything,” he said. “But a lot of that fit into trying to fit a different statistical model — more groundballs, more strikeouts — which kind of seems intuitive, but if you’re not doing it, it feels like a different universe. So I wanted to kind of get into that. And now that I do it, it’s something that you can focus on different little things, percentages here and there that you can work in your favor.”
Now McCarthy brings his strategy to Arizona where he hopes to continue using Sabermetrics to his advantage.
“There’s always good stuff to it, it’s about being able to filter out the bad information properly,” he said.