I'm not a sabermetrician. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.
I should probably trigger a big flashing red light on people's sabremetridar. I love baseball. I'm an A's fan. I do computers. I know SQL like the back of my hand. But sabermetrics just doesn't turn me on.
I think here's why: The single thing I enjoy most about baseball is the art of pitching. I love trying to think along with the pitcher, figuring out what to throw next, how to keep the hitter off balance.
Suppose I'm Barry Zito, and I'm facing Richie Sexson, and I'm behind in the count 2-1, having thrown an inside fastball for a called strike, and two consecutive curveballs out of the zone. What do I throw next?
To me, that's by far the most interesting question in baseball. But without detailed pitch-by-pitch data, sabermetrics cannot answer that question, and must remain silent.
If we really want to understand why Barry Zito has struggled the past two seasons, we're not going to find that understanding in his K/9 rates. That understanding lies in his pitch-by-pitch decisions, in how often he gets himself backed in a corner, with few options to deceive the batter.
Justin Duchscherer is a mystery to me. How does he keep getting people out? He has a nice 12-6 curveball, but otherwise he doesn't appear to have good stuff. But there's this: I find it really difficult to guess what he's going to throw next. What is he doing, exactly? What's his M.O.?
Kirk Saarloos has pitched decently all season, but he has tended to get tired early. But yesterday, he threw a complete-game shutout. The Chronicle reported that he added a hard slurve to his repertoire for this game. Is that why he struck out more batters and could throw more pitches than usual? Or was it just that the Mariners are bad? Does this new/altered pitch help him get batters out, and if so, how?
I don't have access to pitch-by-pitch data, so I can't run an SQL query to get answers. I'm just going to have to keep watching ballgames. Not that there's anything wrong with that.