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Sabersphere 2/20: Felix Hernandez, WAR, SABR Scouting, Presidents

The best saber-links from Tuesday. It's a big one!

Jed Jacobsohn

We have a ton of stuff to cover today, people. Not much happened in the baseball world other than more minor players linked to Biogenesis, but in the sabermetrics universe there was a boatload of quality writing yesterday. Let's jump right in.

Previously on Beyond the Box Score

Only one thing to recap from BtB yesterday. Spencer Schneier and I had a conversation last week on GChat about how to measure value. We both found it so interesting that we decided to edit it and share with you all: Value, Context, and Clutch: a Conversation | Beyond the Box Score

Around the Sabersphere

Mark Smith, one of the newest additions to the FanGraphs staff, writes an absolutely phenomenal piece on how to translate the classic 20-80 scouting scale into sabermetrics. The result is a resource that you should definitely bookmark: The 20-80 Scale, SABR Style | FanGraphs Baseball

When someone says that a player is an [insert grade], what should we actually expect them to do statistically at the major-league level?

This piece is actually from Monday, but I failed to mention it in yesterday's Sabersphere. Resident BP psychologist Russell Carleton continues his research into the Verducci Effect: Baseball Therapy: What Really Predicts Pitcher Injuries? | Baseball Prospectus

Former BtBer Bill Petti examines King Felix's new contract, his effectiveness, and his future health: Felix Hernandez’s Velocity | FanGraphs Baseball

Like most pitchers, Felix has seen his fastball velocity decline throughout his young career. That isn’t troubling. What is, though, is the rate at which that velocity has fallen.

The next two links are both on ESPN Insider, so you'll have to be a subscriber to read them.

First, Kieth Law looks into some statistics that are most helpful for evaluating players: OBP and BABIP among the most important baseball statistics needed for player evaluation - MLB - ESPN

Next, Dan Szymborski, the creator of the ZiPS projection system, looks at the most statistically divisive players in MLB, and tells us which variation on WAR is right: Tim Lincecum and Michael Bourn among those who create disagreement among wins above replacement - MLB - ESPN

Finally, Baseball Prospectus' Sam Miller commits baseball writing suicide: he defends WAR on a mainstream platform. Personally, I think the result is fantastic and should convince everyone to use WAR. If you agree, just don't read the comments. It's not pretty. Why Wins Above Replacement is MLB's next big all-encompassing stat | ESPN The Magazine - ESPN

Fight it if you like, but baseball has become too complicated to solve without science.

If you'd like to submit something to Sabersphere, shoot an email to

Outside the Sabersphere

This is an awesome look at evaluating United States presidents using the same methods as we evaluate baseball players. Really fun and interesting read: Can We Measure Presidents Like Baseball Players? | Big Think TV | Big Think

How do we evaluate leaders? Would the 13th Amendment have passed without Lincoln's leadership? Would the U.S. have joined the League of Nations had it not been for the stubbornness of Wilson?

On the more silly side, check out this hilarious fake 8-bit video game about the Toronto Blue Jays: Blue Jays 8-bit video game | Bluebird Banter

And finally, on a completely non-baseball related note, you should absolutely watch Zach Galifianakis' newest edition of Between Two Ferns. In fact, just watch all of them. Between Two Ferns: Oscar Buzz Edition Part 1